United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
LAWRENCE D. BAKER, SR., Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
L. Litkovitz, United States Magistrate Judge
Lawrence D. Baker, Sr. brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for judicial review
of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying his application for
disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and
supplemental security income ("SSI"). This matter
is before the Court on plaintiffs statement of errors (Doc.
7) and the Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc.
filed his applications for DIB and SSI in July 2013, alleging
disability since June 7, 2013 due to a combination of
physical and mental impairments. These applications were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff, through
counsel, requested and was afforded a hearing before
administrative law judge ("ALJ") Thuy-Anh T. Nguyen
on November 13, 2015. Plaintiff and a vocational expert
("VE") appeared and testified at the ALJ hearing.
On February 3, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision denying
plaintiffs DIB and SSI applications. Plaintiffs request for
review by the Appeals Council was denied, making the decision
of the ALJ the final administrative decision of the
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) (DIB),
l382c(a)(3)(A) (SSI). 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 impairments) 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.
Robbers v. Comm 'r of Soc. Sec, 582 F.3d 647,
652 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
4O4.l52O(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.
Rabbets, 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 March 31, 2018.
2. The [plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since June 7, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease; hypertension; hyperlipidemia;
cardiovascular disease including atrial fibrillation; chronic
heart failure; obesity; depressive/bipolar disorder;
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and rule out
borderline intellectual functioning (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
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, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
[ALJ] finds that the [plaintiff] has the residual functional
capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he can occasionally climb
steps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; frequently
balance, kneel, and crouch; and occasionally stoop and crawl.
He should avoid concentrated exposure to unprotected heights
and heavy machinery. The [plaintiff] is able to understand,
remember, and carry out concrete simple 1-2 step routine
tasks/instructions, but should have no constant pace or high
production standards. He is limited to occasional and simple
changes in duties or in a work setting and should have no
interaction with the general public. The [plaintiff) is
limited to brief, occasional, and superficial interaction
with coworkers or supervisors on shared tasks.
6. The [plaintiff] is unable to perform any past relevant
work (20 CFR 404.1565 and416.965).
7. The [plaintiff] was born [in] ., .1962 and was 50 years
old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching
advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR
404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The [plaintiff] has at least a high school education and
is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the [plaintiff] is "not disabled, " whether or
not the [plaintiff] has transferable job skills (See SSR
82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the [plaintiff]'s age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the [plaintiff] can perform (20 CFR 404.1569,
404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The [plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as
defined in the Social Security Act, from June 7, 2013,
through the date of this decision (20 ...