United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
PETER H. MOLLER, Plaintiff,
COMMISISONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
M. Rose District Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION  THAT: (1) THE
ALJ'S NON-DISABILITY FINDING BE FOUND SUPPORTED BY
SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE AND AFFIRMED; AND (2) THIS CASE BE
CLOSED ON THE COURT'S DOCKET
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. 10), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 11), the
administrative record (doc. 8), and the record as a whole.
filed an application for DIB asserting disability as of
October 25, 2009. PageID 189-91. Plaintiff claims disability
as a result of multiple impairments including, inter
alia, low back pain, thoracic or lumbosacral neuritis or
radiculitis and a seizure disorder. PageID 57, 1435.
initial denial of his application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Anne Sharrard on July 9, 2015. PageID
75-114. The ALJ issued a written decision on August 20, 2015
finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 55-69. Specifically,
the ALJ found at Step 5 that, based upon Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work,  “there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff]
can perform[.]” PageID 58-69.
the Appeals Council denied review on June 22, 2016, making
the ALJ's non-disability finding the final administrative
decision of the Commissioner. PageID 45-48. See Casey v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230,
1233 (6th Cir. 1993). 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 55-69), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 10), and the Commissioner's memorandum in
opposition (doc. 11). The undersigned incorporates all of the
foregoing and sets forth the facts relevant to this decision
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. 1978).
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.
eligible for disability benefits, a claimant must be under a
“disability” as defined by the Social Security
Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Narrowed to its statutory
meaning, a “disability” includes physical and/or
mental impairments that are both “medically
determinable” and severe enough to prevent a claimant
from (1) performing his or her past job and (2) ...