United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
SANDRA M. SCHUMPERT, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
DECISION AND ENTRY: (1) REVERSING THE ALJ'S
NON-DISABILITY FINDING AS UNSUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL
EVIDENCE; (2) REMANDING THIS CASE TO THE COMMISSIONER UNDER
THE FOURTH SENTENCE OF 42 U.S.C. § 405(G) FOR AN
IMMEDIATE AWARD OF BENEFITS; AND (3) TERMINATING THIS CASE ON
THE COURT'S DOCKE
Michael J. Newman, United States Magistrate Judge.
Social Security disability benefits appeal is before the
undersigned for disposition based upon the parties'
consent. Doc. 10. At issue is whether the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) erred in a decision issued on
January 19, 2016 by finding Plaintiff not
“disabled” and therefore unentitled to Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). This case is before
the Court on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 13),
the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 12),
Plaintiff's reply (doc. 13), the administrative record
(docs. 6, 7),  and the record as a whole.
filed for DIB alleging a disability onset date of February
19, 2007. PageID 305-07. Plaintiff claims disability as a
result of a number of alleged impairments including,
inter alia, cervical spine degenerative disc
disease, bilateral osteoarthritis of the knees, lumbar spine
degenerative disc disease, irritable bowel syndrome,
residuals of right shoulder injury and corrective surgery,
affective (depressive) disorder, and anxiety. PageID 1980.
an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Janice M. Bruning on April 20, 2010.
PageID 123-41. ALJ Bruning issued a decision on September 7,
2010 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 148-57.
Specifically, ALJ Bruning found at Step Five that, based upon
Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of sedentary
work,  “there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff]
can perform[.]” PageID 153-57. The Appeals Council
granted Plaintiff's request for review, vacated ALJ
Bruning's non-disability finding, and remanded the case
for further proceedings. PageID 165-69.
remand from the Appeals Council, Plaintiff received a hearing
before ALJ Amelia G. Lombardo on June 14, 2013. PageID
102-22. ALJ Lombardo issued a decision on July 12, 2013
finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 71-90. Specifically,
ALJ Lombardo found at Step Five that, based upon
Plaintiff's RFC to perform a reduced range of light work,
“there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in
the national economy that [Plaintiff] could have
performed[.]” PageID 82-90.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a
review of ALJ Lombardo's decision, making her
non-disability finding the final administrative decision of
the Commissioner. PageID 53-55. See Casey v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir.
1993). On appeal to this Court, Judge Rose granted the
parties' joint stipulation to remand to the Commissioner,
thereby reversing ALJ Lombardo's non-disability finding
and remanding the case to the Commissioner for additional
administrative proceedings. PageID 2113.
remand from this Court, Plaintiff received a hearing before
ALJ Eric Anschuetz on November 17, 2015. PageID 2055-2104.
ALJ Anschuetz issued a decision on January 19, 2016 finding
Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 1976-99. Specifically, ALJ
Anschuetz found at Step Five that, based upon Plaintiff's
RFC to perform a reduced range of light work, “there
[are] jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that [he can] perform[.]” PageID 1990-99.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making ALJ Anschuetz's non-disability finding the
final administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID
1965-67. See Casey, 987 F.2d at 1233. Plaintiff then
filed this timely appeal challenging the non-disability
finding by ALJ Anschuetz (hereafter, “ALJ”).
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 1976-99), Plaintiff's Statement of
Errors (doc. 13) the Commissioner's memorandum in
opposition (doc. 14), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 15).
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