United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
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
Michael J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge
a Social Security disability benefits appeal for which the
parties have consented to entry of final judgment. 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”). This case is before the Court on
Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 9), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 13),
Plaintiff's reply (doc. 14), the administrative record
(doc. 5),  and the record as a whole.
filed for DIB and SSI alleging a disability onset date of May
1, 2014. Tr. 99. Plaintiff claims disability as a result of a
number of alleged impairments including, inter alia,
major depressive disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic
stress disorder (“PTSD”). Tr. 41.
an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Deborah F. Sanders on July 17, 2017. Tr
34-73. The ALJ issued a written decision on September 28,
2017 finding Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 15-26. 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[.]” Tr. 21-26.
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making the ALJ's 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).
Evidence of Record
evidence of record is adequately summarized in the ALJ's
decision (Tr. 15-26), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 9), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 13), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 14). 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