United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
MELISSA R. JANDLE, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
J. Litkovitz, M.J.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz, United States Magistrate Judge.
Melissa R. Jandle 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 her application for
disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and
supplemental security income ("SSI"). This matter
is before the Court on plaintiffs statement of errors (Doc.
13) and the Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc.
filed her applications for DIB and SSI in April 2014,
alleging disability since January 1, 2009 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")
Elizabeth A. Motta on January 11, 2016. Plaintiff and a
vocational expert ("VE") appeared and testified at
the ALJ hearing. On February 1, 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 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) (DIB),
1382c(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 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 June 30, 2015, but not
2. The [plaintiff] engaged in substantial gainful activity in
2014 (20 CFR 404.1520(b), 404.1571 etseq.,
416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq.).
3. However, there has been a [sic] continuous 12-month
periods during which the [plaintiff] did not engage in
substantial gainful activity. The remaining findings address
the periods the [plaintiff] did not engage in substantial
4. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
(20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
5. 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), ...