United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
JENNIFER L. BOWMAN, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz, United States Magistrate Judge.
Jennifer L. Bowman brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). This
matter is before the Court on plaintiff's statement of
errors (Doc. 11) and the Commissioner's response in
opposition (Doc. 15).
filed her application for DIB in June 2012, alleging
disability since May 3, 2012 due to degenerative disc disease
of the lumbar spine, migraine headaches, obesity, depression,
anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity dis, and borderline
intellectual functioning. The application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff, through
counsel, requested and was granted a hearing before
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Andrew Gollin.
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (“VE”) appeared
and testified at the ALJ hearing. On October 6, 2015, the ALJ
issued a decision denying plaintiff's DIB application.
Plaintiff's request for review by the Appeals Council was
denied, making the decision of the ALJ the final
administrative decision of the Commissioner.
Legal Framework for Disability Determinations
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must suffer from
a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The impairment must
render the claimant unable to engage in the work previously
performed or in any other substantial gainful employment that
exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2).
promulgated by the Commissioner establish a five-step
sequential evaluation process for disability determinations:
1) If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the
claimant is not disabled.
2) If the claimant does not have a severe medically
determinable physical or mental impairment - i.e.,
an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical
or mental ability to do basic work activities - the claimant
is not disabled.
3) If the claimant has a severe impairment(s) that meets or
equals one of the listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the
regulations and meets the duration requirement, the claimant
4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or
her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is
5) If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the
claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot make an
adjustment to other work, the claimant is disabled.
Rabbers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 582 F.3d 647,
652 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), 404.1520(b)-(g)). The claimant has the
burden of proof at the first four steps of the sequential
evaluation process. Id.; Wilson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 548 (6th Cir. 2004). Once the
claimant establishes a prima facie case by showing an
inability to perform the relevant previous employment, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant
can perform other substantial gainful employment and that
such employment exists in the national economy.
Rabbers, 582 F.3d at 652; Harmon v. Apfel,
168 F.3d 289, 291 (6th Cir. 1999).
The Administrative Law Judge's Findings
applied the sequential evaluation process and made the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. The [plaintiff] meets the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through December 31, 2015.
2. The [plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 3, 2012, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571, et seq.).
3. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, migraine
headaches, obesity, depression, anxiety, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, and borderline intellectual
functioning (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. The [plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
[ALJ] finds that the [plaintiff] has the residual functional
capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(a) with the following limitations: she requires some
flexibility to change positions from sit to stand and vice
versa approximately every 30 minutes. She can occasionally
climb ramps and stairs. She can never climb ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds. She can occasionally balance, stoop, crouch,
kneel, and crawl. She can have no exposure to extreme cold,
extreme heat, and vibration. She cannot perform work
involving workplace hazards such as mechanical parts or
equipment and/or unprotected heights. She cannot perform work
involving the operation of motorized vehicles. She can