United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
AMY L. RILEY, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
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
M. Rose District Judge.
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 Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). This case is before the Court upon
Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 6), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 7),
Plaintiff's reply (doc. 8), the administrative record
(doc. 4),  and the record as a whole.
filed an application for SSI on October 17, 2013 (PageID
215-17) alleging disability as a result of a number of
alleged impairments including, inter alia, mild
degenerative disk disease of the lumbosacral spine,
depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”). PageID 63.
an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Mark Hockensmith on November 9, 2015.
PageID 76-121. The ALJ issued a decision on December 9, 2015
finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 61-69. Specifically,
the ALJ found at Step Five that, based upon Plaintiff's
RFC to perform a reduced range of medium work,  “there are
jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that [Plaintiff] can perform[.]” PageID 65-69.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making the ALJ's non-disability finding the final
administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 41-43.
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 61-69), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 6), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 7), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 8). The undersigned
incorporates all of the foregoing and sets forth the facts
relevant to this appeal 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. 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