United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
BENITA R. SCHIRMER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
M. Rose District Judge.
AND RECOMMENDATION THAT (1) THE ALJ'S
NON-DISABILITY FINDING BE FOUND UNSUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL
EVIDENCE, AND REVERSED; (2) THIS MATTER BE REMANDED TO THE
COMMISSIONER UNDER THE FOURTH SENTENCE OF 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) FOR AN IMMEDIATE AWARD OF BENEFITS; AND (3) THIS CASE
BE CLOSED ON THE COURT'S DOCKET
Michael J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge.
a Social Security disability benefits appeal. At issue is
whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
erred in finding Plaintiff not “disabled” and
therefore unentitled to Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) and/or Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). Before the Court are Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors (doc. 9), the Commissioner's
memorandum in opposition (doc. 12), Plaintiff's reply
(doc. 13), the administrative record (doc. 6), and the record
as a whole.
filed for DIB and SSI alleging a disability onset date of
January 1, 2013. PageID 229-38. Plaintiff claims disability
as a result of a number of impairments including, inter
alia, fibromyalgia, adrenal insufficiency,
labyrinthitis,  vertigo, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
(“EDS”),  and postural orthostatic tachycardia
syndrome (“POTS”). PageID 40.
an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Elizabeth A. Motta on January 19, 2017.
PageID 60. The ALJ issued a written decision on August 15,
2017 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 37. 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 in that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
[she] can perform[.]” PageID 53. The Appeals Council
then denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the
ALJ's non-disability finding the Commissioner's final
administrative decision. PageID 28. 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 44-53), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 9), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 12), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 13). 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 disability 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.