United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
ROSALIND Y. LEININGER, Plaintiff,
COMMISISONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
H. Rice District Judge
AND RECOMMENDATION THAT: (1) THE ALJ'S
NON-DISABILITY FINDING BE FOUND UNSUPPORTED
BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, AND REVERSED; (2) THIS MATTER BE
REMANDED TO THE COMMISSIONER UNDER THE FOURTH SENTENCE OF 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) FOR PROCEEDINGS CONSISTENT WITH THIS
OPINION; AND (3) THIS CASE BE CLOSED
Michael J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge
a Social Security disability benefits appeal. At issue is
whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
erred in finding Plaintiff not “disabled” and
therefore unentitled to Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). This case is before the Court upon
Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 8), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 10),
Plaintiff's reply (doc. 11), the administrative record
(doc. 6),  and the record as a whole.
filed an application for DIB asserting disability as of
October 13, 2012. PageID 232-33. Plaintiff claims disability
as a result of multiple impairments including, inter
alia, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder and anxiety. PageID
originally filed an application for DIB in October 2010. ALJ
Elizabeth A. Motta issued a decision on October 12, 2012
finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 40. However, because
Plaintiff has produced new and material evidence documenting
a significant change in her condition, ALJ Motta's
previous RFC determination is not binding. Id.
December 2012, Plaintiff filed a second, new application for
DIB, again alleging disability as of October 13, 2012.
Id. After an initial denial of her application,
Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Gregory G. Kenyon on
June 24, 2015. PageID 61-96. ALJ Kenyon (hereafter
“ALJ”) issued a written decision on May 28, 2015
finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 40-54. Specifically,
the ALJ found at Step 5 that, based upon Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a
reduced range of light work,  “there are jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that
[Plaintiff] can perform[.]” PageID 53.
the Appeals Council denied review on August 16, 2016, making
the ALJ's non-disability finding the final administrative
decision of the Commissioner. PageID 30-32. Plaintiff then
filed this timely appeal. Cook v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 480 F.3d 432, 435 (6th Cir. 2007).
Evidence of Record
evidence of record is adequately summarized in the ALJ's
decision (PageID 40-54), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 8), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 10), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 11). The
undersigned incorporates all of the foregoing and sets forth
the facts relevant to this decision herein.
Standard of Review
Court's inquiry on a Social Security appeal is to
determine (1) whether the ALJ's non-disability finding is
supported by substantial evidence, and (2) whether the ALJ
employed the correct legal criteria. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g); Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
478 F.3d 742, 745-46 (6th Cir. 2007). In performing this
review, the Court must consider the record as a whole.
Hephner v. Mathews, 574 F.2d 359, 362 (6th Cir.
evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
When substantial evidence supports the ALJ's denial of
benefits, that finding must be affirmed, even if substantial
evidence also exists in the record upon which the ALJ could
have found Plaintiff disabled. Buxton v. Halter, 246
F.3d 762, 772 (6th Cir. 2001). Thus, the ALJ has a
“‘zone of choice' within which he [or she]
can act without the fear of court interference.”
Id. at 773.
second judicial inquiry -- reviewing the correctness of the
ALJ's legal analysis --may result in reversal even if the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence in
the record. Rabbers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 582
F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009). “[A] decision
of the Commissioner will not be upheld where the [Social
Security Administration] fails to follow its own regulations
and where that error prejudices a claimant on the merits or
deprives the claimant of a substantial right.”
Bowen, 478 F.3d at 746.