United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
SCOTT A. BOLDMAN, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendants.
H. Rice, District Judge
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 BE CLOSED
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”) and/or Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). This case is before the Court upon
Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 6), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 7), the
administrative record (doc. 4), and the record as a
originally filed for DIB on February 8, 2008 as a result of a
number of alleged impairments including, inter alia,
degenerative disc disease, obesity and headaches. PageID 57,
originally filed an application for DIB on February 8, 2008.
ALJ Carol K. Bowen issued a decision on June 3, 2010 finding
Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 125-33. Specifically, ALJ
Bowen found at Step Five that, based upon Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a
reduced range of light work,  “there are jobs in that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
[he] can perform[.]” PageID 128-33.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making ALJ Bowen's non-disability finding the
final administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID
137-39. See Casey v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993). No appeal
was taken; accordingly, Plaintiff is deemed not disabled, as
a matter of law, through June 3, 2010. Id. However,
because the record reflects new and material evidence
documenting a new severe condition of obesity, ALJ
Bowen's RFC is not binding on subsequent ALJs.
Drummond v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 126 F.3d 837,
842 (6th Cir. 1997); Dennard v. Sec. of Health &
Human Servs., 907 F.2d 598, 600 (6th Cir. 1990).
Plaintiff filed new applications for DIB and SSI. PageID
267-79. After an initial denial of this newer set of
applications, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ
Elizabeth A. Motta on April 18, 2016. PageID 77-110. ALJ
Motta issued a decision on June 20, 2016 finding Plaintiff
not disabled. PageID 57-69. Specifically, ALJ Motta found at
Step Five that, based upon Plaintiff's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a reduced
range of light work, “there are jobs in that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that [he] can
perform[.]” PageID 62-69.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
ALJ Motta's non-disability finding the final
administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 25-28.
See Casey, 987 F.2d at 1233. Plaintiff then filed
this timely appeal challenging the non-disability finding by
ALJ Motta. 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 ALJ
Motta's (hereafter “ALJ”) decision (PageID
57-69), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 6) and the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 7). 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