United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
LEONE D. MEBANE, 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 UNDER THE FOURTH SENTENCE
OF 42 U.S.C. § 405(G) FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS; 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' full
consent. Doc. 7. At issue is whether the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) erred in finding Plaintiff not
“disabled” and therefore unentitled to
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). This case
is before the Court on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 9), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 10), the administrative record (doc. 10),
the record as a whole.
filed for SSI on October 30, 2014 (PageID 228-33) alleging
disability as a result of a number of alleged impairments
including, inter alia, depressive disorder, anxiety
disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”). PageID 54.
initial denial of his applications, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Elizabeth A. Motta on October 14, 2016.
PageID 78-99. The ALJ issued a written decision on February
28, 2017 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 80-99.
Specifically, the ALJ found at Step Five that, based upon
Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of medium
work,  “there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff]
can perform[.]” PageID 58-65.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making the ALJ's non-disability finding the final
administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 43-45.
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 59-64), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 9), and the Commissioner's opposition memorandum
(doc. 10). The undersigned incorporates the foregoing and
sets forth the relevant facts 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
that error prejudices a claimant on the merits or deprives
the claimant of a substantial right.” Bowen,
478 F.3d at 746.
eligible for disability benefits, a claimant must be under a
“disability” as defined by the Social Security
Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Narrowed to its statutory
meaning, a “disability” includes physical and/or
mental impairments that are both “medically
determinable” and severe enough to prevent a claimant
from (1) performing his or her past job and (2) ...