United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge.
Wendy Mulyca brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for judicial review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(Commissioner) denying her application for supplemental
security income (SSI). This matter is before the Court on
plaintiffs statement of errors (Doc. 6) and the
Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc. 12).
protectively filed her application for SSI in May 2014,
alleging disability since June 1, 2013 due to knee pain, a
torn ACL in the right knee, arthritis in the left knee, a
back injury, colitis, and stress. The application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff, through
counsel, requested and was afforded a hearing before
administrative law judge (ALJ) Peter J. Boylan on January 9,
2017. Plaintiff and a vocational expert (VE) appeared and
testified at the ALJ hearing. On February 13, 2017, the ALJ
issued a decision denying plaintiffs application. Plaintiffs
request for review by the Appeals Council was denied, making
the decision of the ALJ the final administrative decision of
Legal Framework for Disability Determinations
qualify for SSI, a claimant must suffer from a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that can be
expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). The impairment must
render the claimant unable to engage in the work previously
performed or in any other substantial gainful employment that
exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. §
promulgated by the Commissioner establish a five-step
sequential evaluation process for disability determinations:
1) If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the
claimant is not disabled.
2) If the claimant does not have a severe medically
determinable physical or mental impairment - i.e.,
an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical
or mental ability to do basic work activities - the claimant
is not disabled.
3) If the claimant has a severe impairment(s) that meets or
equals one of the listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the
regulations and meets the duration requirement, the claimant
4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or
her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is
5) If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the
claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot make an
adjustment to other work, the claimant is disabled.
Robbers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 582 F.3d 647, 652
(6th Cir. 2009) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
416.920(a)(4)(i)-(v), 416.920 (b)-(g)). The claimant has the
burden of proof at the first four steps of the sequential
evaluation process. Id.; Wilson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec, 378 F.3d 541, 548 (6th Cir. 2004). Once the
claimant establishes a prima facie case by showing an
inability to perform the relevant previous employment, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant
can perform other substantial gainful employment and that
such employment exists in the national economy.
Rubbers, 582 F.3d at 652; Harmon v. Apfel,
168 F.3d 289, 291 (6th Cir. 1999).
The Administrative Law Judge's Findings
applied the sequential evaluation process and made the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. The [plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 23, 2014, the application date (20 CFR
416.971 et seq).
2. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
Major joint dysfunction; reconstructive surgery of a
weight-bearing joint; borderline intellectual functioning;
learning disorder; affective disorder; and abnormal curvature
of the spine (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. The [plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
[ALJ] finds that the [plaintiff] has the residual functional
capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
416.967(b) except for the following restrictions: She can
frequently push/pull with the left lower extremity. She can
occasionally climb ramps and stairs but can never climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She can occasionally balance,
stoop and crouch but can never kneel or crawl. She can
perform simple, routine tasks. She cannot perform at a
production-rate pace. She can make simple, work-related
decisions. She can handle occasional changes in a routine
5. The [plaintiff] has no past relevant work (20 CFR
6. The [plaintiff] was bom [in] ... 1962 and was 51 years
old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching
advanced age, on the date the ...