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Clark v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

May 22, 2018

AMANDA R. CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          George C. Smith Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CHELSEY M. VASCURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Amanda R. Clark, brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §' 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. This matter is before the United States Magistrate Judge for a Report and Recommendation on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (ECF No. 10), the Commissioner's Memorandum in Opposition (ECF No. 15), and the administrative record (ECF No. 9). For the reasons that follow, it is RECOMMENDED that the Court OVERRULE Plaintiff's Statement of Errors and AFFIRM the Commissioner's non-disability finding.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her application for Title XVI Social Security Disability Benefits on March 6, 2013, alleging that he became disabled on February 1, 2012. Her application was denied on March 3, 2014, and upon reconsideration on June 12, 2014.

         Administrative Law Judge Susan F. Zapf (the “ALJ”) held a hearing on March 9, 2016, at which Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified via video. Vocational Expert Mary K. Andrews (the “VE”) also appeared and testified. On May 12, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. On June 15, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review without substantive comment and adopted the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff then timely commenced the instant action on August 15, 2017.

         In her Statement of Errors (ECF No. 10), Plaintiff raises a single contention of error, namely, that “the ALJ erred in not considering and in not finding that [her] pulmonary impairments medically met or equaled Listing 3.02(c)(1).” (Pl.'s Statement of Errors 9, ECF No. 10.) In support of this assertion, Plaintiff points out that she was diagnosed with asthma and contends that she had DLCO tests (test for measuring diffusing capacity) on April 15, 2015, and May 5, 2015, that would meet Listing 3.02(C)(1). Plaintiff also points out that subsequent to the April and May 2015 tests, no medical consultant considered whether she met Listing 3.02(C)(1). Plaintiff concludes that remand is therefore required.

         In her Memorandum in Opposition (ECF No. 15), the Commissioner counters that the ALJ reasonably determined that Plaintiff did not meet or equal a listing. According to the Commissioner, the evidence upon which Plaintiff relies “is inadequate on its face to meet the bright-line requirements outlined under Listing 3.02.” (Id.)

         II. THE ALJ'S DECISION

         The ALJ issued her decision on May 12, 2016, finding that Plaintiff had not been under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act since her application date.

         At step two of the sequential evaluation process, [1] the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: “recurrent arrhythmias vs vasodepressor syndrome, asthma, affective disorder, personality disorder and somatoform disorder.” (R. at 13.) The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id. at PAGEID# 56-57.) The ALJ expressly considered and discussed Listings 3.03 (asthma), 4.05, 12.04, 12.07, and 12.08. (R. at 14-15.)

         At step four of the sequential process, the ALJ set forth Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) as follows:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except: she is limited to frequent rams and stairs, she cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; she is limited to occasional stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; and she must avoid concentrated exposure toe cold, heat, humidity and even moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dust, gases, poor ventilation, and hazards. She cannot engage in ...

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