United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
CANDY S. LAY, 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
PROCEEDINGS CONSISTENT WITH THIS OPINION; AND (3) TERMINATING
THIS CASE ON THE COURT'S DOCKET
MICHAEL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Social Security disability benefits appeal is before the
undersigned for disposition based upon the parties'
consent. Doc. 14. At issue is whether the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) erred in finding Plaintiff not
“disabled” and therefore unentitled to
Widow's Insurance Benefits
(“WIB”). This case is before the Court on
Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 9), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 10),
Plaintiff's reply (doc. 11), the administrative record
(doc. 7),  and the record as a whole.
filed for WIB alleging an onset date of September 7, 2012.
PageID 65, 329-35. Plaintiff claims disability as a result of
a number of alleged impairments including, inter
alia, degenerative joint disease of the right shoulder,
degenerative disc disease, migraines, anemia, depression, and
anxiety. PageID 68.
an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Mark Hockensmith on October 24, 2016.
PageID 84-109. The ALJ issued a decision on January 4, 2017
finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 65-77. Specifically,
the ALJ found at Step Five that, based upon Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a
reduced range of light work,  “there are jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that
[Plaintiff] can perform[.]” PageID 70-77.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making the ALJ's non-disability finding the final
administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 47-50.
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 65-77), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 9), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 10), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 11). 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