United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
LINDA M. REDMOND, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEPHANIE K. BOWMAN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Linda M. Redmond filed this Social Security appeal in order
to challenge the Defendant's findings that she is not
disabled. See 42 U.S.C. §405(g). Proceeding
through counsel, Plaintiff presents one claim of error, which
the Defendant disputes. For the reasons explained below, I
conclude that the ALJ's finding of non-disability should
be AFFIRMED, because it is supported by substantial evidence
in the administrative record.
Summary of Administrative Record
2014, Plaintiff filed for Supplemental Security Income
alleging a disability onset date of January 8, 2014. (Tr.
143). After Plaintiff's claims were denied initially and
upon reconsideration, she requested a hearing de
novo before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). On February 14, 2017, ALJ Thuy-Anh
Nguyen held a hearing at which Plaintiff appeared with a
non-attorney representative. The ALJ heard testimony from
Plaintiff and an impartial vocational expert. Id. In
September 2017, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not
under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act.
(Tr. 143- 157). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review in March 2018. (Tr. 1). Plaintiff now
seeks judicial review of the denial of her application for
was 45-years-old on the alleged disability onset date. (Tr.
156). She holds at least a high school diploma. (Tr. 156).
Plaintiff testified that she is married and that her
daughter-in-law visits her several times a day (Tr. 173).
Plaintiff has past relevant work as a nurse
supervisor/manager (light, skilled work actually performed at
very heavy exertion by Plaintiff) and as a license practical
nurse (medium, skilled work actually performed at very heavy
exertion by Plaintiff). (Tr. 156).
upon the record and testimony presented at the hearing, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: “rheumatoid arthritis; disorders of the
spine; a history of bilateral scleritis with a large
refractive shift on the right, bilateral uveitis, mild
cystoid macular edema on the right, a steroid responder on
the right, and bilateral nuclear sclerosis; diabetes
mellitus; obesity; and a depressive disorder.” (Tr.
145). Treatment records characterize these conditions as well
controlled. Id. The ALJ concluded that none of
Plaintiff's impairments alone or in combination met or
medically equaled a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subp. P, Appendix 1 (Tr. 146). The ALJ determined that
Plaintiff retains the following residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work with the following
The claimant can stand and/or walk for four hours and sit for
six hours in an eight-hour workday. The claimant can
occasionally operate overhead hand controls and reach
overhead, and frequently handle and finger. The claimant can
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but must never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant must
avoid unprotected heights and hazardous machinery. The
claimant must not work in driving jobs. The claimant can
carry out simple tasks, but can carry out complex tasks
occasionally. The claimant can maintain attention for simple
tasks and decisions, can make simple decisions, and can
adequately adhere to a schedule that does not have any strict
time limits or production standards. The claimant can
interact occasionally with the public, coworkers, and
supervisors. The claimant can adapt to a setting in which
duties are routine and predictable. Changes in routine should
be explained in advance. The claimant will be off-task for
10% of the workday and absent one day each month.
(Tr. 148). Based upon the record as a whole including
testimony from the vocational expert, and given
Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the
ALJ concluded that there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that she can perform,
including such jobs as routing clerk, inspector, and mail
clerk. (Tr. 157). Even if more limited, Plaintiff could
perform sedentary, unskilled jobs such as sorter, bench
assembler, and folder. (Tr. 157). Accordingly, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff is not under disability, as defined
in the Social Security Regulations, and is not entitled to
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
Therefore, the ALJ's decision stands as the
Defendant's final determination. On appeal to this Court,
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's RFC finding is not
supported by substantial evidence. Upon close analysis, I
conclude that none of the asserted errors require reversal or
Judicial Standard of Review
eligible for SSI or DIB a claimant must be under a
“disability” within the definition of the Social
Security Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§423(a), (d),
1382c(a). The definition of the term “disability”
is essentially the same for both DIB and SSI. See Bowen
v. City of New York, 476 U.S. 467, 469-70 (1986).
Narrowed to its statutory meaning, a “disability”
includes only physical or mental impairments that are both
“medically determinable” and severe enough to
prevent the applicant from (1) performing his or her past job
and (2) engaging in “substantial gainful
activity” that is available in the regional or national
economies. See Bowen, 476 U.S. at 469-70 (1986).
court is asked to review the Commissioner's denial of
benefits, the court's first inquiry is to determine
whether the ALJ's non-disability finding is supported by
substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). 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)
(additional citation and internal quotation omitted). In
conducting this review, the court should consider the record
as a whole. Hephner v. Mathews, 574 F.2d 359, 362
(6th Cir. 1978). If substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's denial of benefits, then that finding must be
affirmed, even if substantial evidence also exists in the
record to support a finding of disability. Felisky v.
Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027, 1035 (6th Cir. 1994). As the Sixth
Circuit has explained:
The Secretary's findings are not subject to reversal
merely because substantial evidence exists in the record to
support a different conclusion . . . . The substantial
evidence standard presupposes that there is a ‘zone of
choice' within which the Secretary may proceed without
interference from the courts. If the Secretary's ...