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Trick v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

July 24, 2019

JESSICA I. TRICK, Plaintiff,
v.
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

         This is 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 Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and/or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).[1] This case is before the Court on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 11), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 16), Plaintiff's reply (doc. 17), the administrative record (doc. 7), [2] and the record as a whole.

         I.

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff originally filed for DIB and SSI on July 17, 2008 alleging a disability onset date of June 1, 2007. Tr. 99. Plaintiff's claim for benefits was considered by ALJ Amelia G. Lombardo, who determined Plaintiff's only severe impairment was bipolar disorder. Tr. 102. By written decision on October 29, 2010, ALJ Lombardo found Plaintiff not disabled and unentitled to benefits. Tr. 96-111. Plaintiff did not appeal this decision.

         Plaintiff again filed for DIB and SSI on April 29, 2015 alleging a disability onset date of June 24, 2014. In this second application, Plaintiff claims disability as a result of a number of alleged impairments including, inter alia, degenerative disc disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”), obesity, an affective disorder, and a personality disorder. Tr. 13.

         After an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Deborah F. Sanders on March 21, 2017. Tr 44-94. PageID. ALJ Sanders issued a written decision on August 23, 2017 finding Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 10-28. Specifically, the ALJ found at Step Five that, based upon Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of light work, [3] “there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff] can perform[.]” Tr. 19-28.

         Thereafter, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making ALJ Sanders' (hereinafter “ALJ”) non-disability finding the final administrative decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1-3. 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). This August 23, 2017 non-disability finding is now before the Court for review.

         B. Evidence of Record

         The evidence of record is adequately summarized in the ALJ's decision (Tr. 63-78), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 13), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 18), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 19). The undersigned incorporates all of the foregoing and sets forth the facts relevant to this appeal herein.

         II.

         A. Standard of Review

         The 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).

         Substantial 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 ...


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