United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. LITKOVITZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Tonya Sue Barber brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for judicial review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying
plaintiffs application for supplemental security income
(SSI). This matter is before the Court on the
Commissioner's memorandum in support of a remand for
further proceedings (Doc. 18) and plaintiffs memorandum
seeking a reversal for an immediate award of benefits (Doc.
Procedural Background of Administrative Proceedings
protectively filed an application for SSI on December 20,
2013, alleging an onset date of disability of December 20,
2013. (Tr. 22). Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Peter Beekman
held a video hearing on June 21, 2017, and issued a decision
denying plaintiffs claim for benefits on July 26, 2017. (Tr.
22-38). After the Appeals Council denied review, plaintiff
appealed ALJ Beekman's decision to this Court on June 1,
2018. (Doc. 1).
plaintiffs SSI appeal was pending in this Court, she was
awarded disabled widow's benefits on a subsequently filed
application in 2018. (Doc. 15 at 5-6). Plaintiff was given a
disability onset date of July 27, 2017-the day after ALJ
Beekman's decision denying SSI benefits in the present
case. (Id. at 2, 5-6).
response to plaintiffs statement of errors (Doc. 9), the
Commissioner filed a unilateral motion for voluntary remand
under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and requested
a remand to the Appeals Council for further review and
issuance of a new decision by, as appropriate, the Appeals
Council or an ALJ. (Doc, 14). The Commissioner concedes
"that the ALJ committed errors in evaluating the
evidence and as such, a remand for further evaluation of the
evidence and a new decision is warranted" on plaintiffs
SSI claim. (Doc. 14 at 1). Because plaintiff did not want the
favorable decision on her widow's claim to be disturbed
on a remand ordered by this Court on her SSI claim, plaintiff
opposed the Commissioner's motion to remand her SSI
4, 2019, the Court denied the Commissioner's motion to
remand this matter and ordered the Commissioner to file a
brief addressing the issue of whether this matter should be
reversed and remanded for further administrative proceedings
or reversed for an immediate award of benefits. (Doc. 17).
Because the Commissioner concedes that the ALJ's decision
cannot be defended, the only issue in this appeal is whether
this matter should be reversed and remanded for rehearing or
reversed for an immediate award of benefits. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g); Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89, 100
(1991). Accordingly, the Court ordered the parties to file
supplemental briefs on this remaining issue. This matter is
now ripe for resolution.
Legal Framework for Disability Determinations
qualify for disability benefits, 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
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 ...