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Gentry v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

January 9, 2018

DARLENE GENTRY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Walter H. Rice District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [1] THAT: (1) THE ALJ'S NON-DISABILITY FINDING BE FOUND SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, AND AFFIRMED; AND (2) THIS CASE BE CLOSED

          MICHAEL J. NEWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This is 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. 7), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 8), the administrative record (doc. 5), and the record as a whole.

         I.

         A. Procedural History

         In September 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for SSI[2] and DIB asserting disability as of January 1, 2007 (later she amended her onset date to January 9, 2009. PageID 79). PageID 205, 212. Plaintiff claims disability as a result of multiple impairments including, inter alia, lumbar sprain/strain, left rotator cuff sprain, and obesity. PageID 61.

         After initial denial of her applications, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Mark Hockensmith on October 10, 2015. PageID 73-96. The ALJ issued a decision on November 4, 2015 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 59-67. Specifically, the ALJ found at Step 4 that, based upon Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of medium work, [3] she “was capable of performing past relevant work as a cleaner, housekeep[er] and a cleaner of laboratory equipment.” PageID 62-67.

         Thereafter, the Appeals Council denied review on October 12, 2016, making the ALJ's non-disability finding the final administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 41-44. 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).

         B. Evidence of Record

         The evidence of record is adequately summarized in the ALJ's decision (PageID 44-50), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 7), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 11), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 13). The undersigned incorporates all of the foregoing and sets forth the facts relevant to this decision herein.

         II.

         A. Standard of Review

         The 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).

         Substantial 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 ...


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