United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. PRESTON DEAVERS, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE
Ronald Walpole (“Plaintiff”), brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)
for review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application
for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits
(“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income
benefits (“SSI”). This matter is before the Court
for consideration of Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (ECF
No. 13), the Commissioner's Memorandum in Opposition (ECF
No. 18), and the administrative record (ECF No. 10).
Plaintiff did not file a Reply. For the following reasons,
Plaintiff's Statement of Errors is
OVERRULED and the Commissioner's
decision is AFFIRMED.
applied for disability benefits and supplemental security
income on September 27, 2012. (R. at 12.) Plaintiff's
claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
(Id.) Administrative Law Judge David Bruce issued an
administrative decision on February 1, 2016 denying
Plaintiff's claims. (R. at 12, 190-203.) On January 10,
2017, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ to
provide adequate support for the finding of past relevant
work and a sufficient rationale to support Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity. (R. at 210-12.) A hearing was
held on July 12, 2017, in which Plaintiff, represented by
counsel, appeared and testified. (R. at 72-107.) A vocational
expert also appeared and testified at the hearing.
(Id.) On August 10, 2017, Administrative Law Judge
Jeffrey Hartranft (“the ALJ”) issued a decision
finding that Plaintiff was not disabled at any time after
August 9, 2012, the alleged onset date. (R. at 12-29.) On
February 22, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review and adopted the ALJ's decision as the
Commissioner's final decision. (R. at 1-3.) Plaintiff
then timely commenced the instant action. (ECF No. 1.)
RELEVANT MEDICAL RECORDS
November 16, 2015, John P. Abad, M.D., prescribed a wheeled
walker for Plaintiff. (R. at 1788.) Dr. Abad's
prescription sheet indicates the following: “Wheeled
walker with hand brakes and seat [illegible] unstable gait
secondary to tussive syncope.” (Id.)
August 10, 2017, the ALJ issued his decision. (R. at 12-29.)
At step one of the sequential evaluation process,
ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since August 9, 2012, the alleged onset
date. (R. at 15.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the
following severe impairments: tussive syncope, diabetes, and
obesity. (Id.) The ALJ further found that Plaintiff
did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that
meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (R.
four of the sequential process, the ALJ set forth
Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) as follows:
[Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)
except he can occasionally climb ramps and stairs and never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He must avoid
concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants such as fumes,
odors, dust, and gases. He must avoid workplace hazards such
as unprotected heights, moving machinery, and commercial
(R. at 20.)
on testimony from the VE, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is
capable of performing his past relevant work as an assembler
as generally and actually performed, and his past relevant
work as a conveyor feeder/off-bearer, spot welder, and
security guard as actually performed, as those jobs do not
require the performance of work-related activities precluded
by Plaintiff's RFC. (R. at 27.) The ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act from
August 9, 2012, through the date of the administrative
decision. (R. at 28.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing a case under the Social Security Act, the Court
“must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it
‘is supported by substantial evidence and was made
pursuant to proper legal standards.'” Rabbers
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir.
2009) (quoting Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007)); see also 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) (“[t]he findings of the
Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported
by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive . . . .”).
Under this standard, “substantial evidence is defined
as ‘more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a
preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Rogers, 486 F.3d at 241
(quoting Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Hum.
Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)).
the substantial evidence standard is deferential, it is not
trivial. The Court must “‘take into account
whatever in the record fairly detracts from [the]
weight'” of the Commissioner's decision.
TNS, Inc. v. NLRB, 296 F.3d 384, 395 (6th Cir. 2002)
(quoting Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U.S.
474, 487 (1951)). Nevertheless, “if substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's decision, this Court defers
to that finding ‘even if there is substantial evidence
in the record that would have supported an opposite
conclusion.'” Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Key
v. Callahan, 109 F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir.
even if the ALJ's decision meets the substantial evidence
standard, “‘a decision of the Commissioner will
not be upheld where the [Social Security Administration]
fails to follow its own regulations and where that error
prejudices a claimant on the merits or deprives the claimant
of a substantial right.'” Rabbers, 582
F.3d at 651 (quoting Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2007)).