United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
MARY M. EVANS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. LITKOVITZ, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Mary M. Evans 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. 11), the
Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc. 14), and
plaintiffs reply (Doc. 15).
filed her application for SSI in December 2014 alleging
disability since September 18, 2014, due to back pain with
surgery, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety,
spinal cord stimulator implantation, broken right foot,
bariatric bypass surgery, bipolar disorder, panic attacks,
and Attention Deficit Disorder. The application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff, through
counsel, requested and was afforded a hearing before
administrative law judge ("ALJ") Deborah F. Sanders
on June 27, 2017. Plaintiff and a vocational expert
("VE") appeared and testified at the ALJ hearing.
On February 28, 2018, 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 the Commissioner.
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.
Rabbers 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.
Rabbers, 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 December 30, 2014, the application date (20
CFR 416.971 et seq).
2. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments:
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar, generalized
anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
cocaine dependence, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
spine, morbid obesity, history of chronic left trigger thumb
status post release procedure, coronary artery disease,
hypertension, asthma, gastro esophageal reflux disease
(GERD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression, [and]
cervical radiculopathy (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] find[s] that the [plaintiff] has the residual functional
capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
416.967(b) except be able to lift and carry up to 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, occasional push/pull
with right upper extremity, stand and/or walk up to 4 hours
in 8 hour day with an option to sit after every 30 minutes of
standing; sit up to 6 hours in 8 hour day, option to stand
after 30-45 minutes of sitting while remaining on task;
occasional foot controls but not on a continuous basis; would
be able to frequently use hand controls; frequently climb
ramp and stairs; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
frequent balance; occasional stoop, kneel, crouch; never
crawl; occasionally engage in overhead reaching; frequent
gross and fine manipulation; never work at unprotected
heights, around moving mechanical parts, and never operate a
motor vehicle; would be able to carry out simple routine
repetitive tasks but not at production rate pace; occasional
interaction with coworkers and supervisors, but no direct
interaction with the public.
5. The [plaintiff] has no past relevant work (20 CFR
6. The [plaintiff] was born [in] ...1970 and was 44 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The [plaintiff] has at least a high school education and
is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
[plaintiff] does not have past relevant work (20 CFR
9. Considering the [plaintiff]'s age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the [plaintiff] can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and
10. The [plaintiff] has not been under a disability, as
defined in the Social Security Act, since December 30, 2014,
the date the ...