United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge
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
plaintiffs application for supplemental security income
(SSI). This matter is before the Court on plaintiffs
Statement of Errors (Doc. 12), the Commissioner's
response in opposition (Doc. 18), and plaintiffs reply
memorandum (Doc. 19).
protectively filed an application for SSI on January 2, 2013,
alleging disability since February 1, 2012. Plaintiffs
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Plaintiff, through counsel, requested and was granted a
de novo hearing before administrative law judge
(ALJ) Anne Shaughnessy, which was held via video conference.
Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) appeared and testified
at the ALJ hearing. On October 8, 2015, the ALJ issued a
decision denying plaintiffs SSI application. Plaintiffs
request for review by the Appeals Council was denied, making
the decision of the ALJ the final administrative decision of
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. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). 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.
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.
Robbers v. Comm V of Soc. Sec, 582 F.3d
647, 652 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
416.920(a)(4)(i)-(v), 416.920(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.
Robbers, 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] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 2, 2013, the application date (20 CFR
2. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
Hodgkin['s] lymphoma; chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease; depression; and borderline intellectual functioning
(20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. 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,