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Massie v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton

August 29, 2019

JULIE B. MASSIE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

         DECISION AND ENTRY: (1) REVERSING THE ALJ'S NON-DISABILITY FINDING AS UNSUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE; (2) REMANDING THIS CASE UNDER THE FOURTH SENTENCE OF 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) FOR AN IMMEDIATE AWARD OF BENEFITS; AND (3) TERMINATING THIS CASE ON THE COURT'S DOCKET

          MICHAEL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This is a Social Security disability benefits appeal for which the parties have consented to entry of final judgment. At issue is whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred in finding Plaintiff not “disabled” and therefore unentitled to Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). This case is before the Court on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 8), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 15), Plaintiff's reply (doc. 16), the administrative record (doc. 6), [1] and the record as a whole.

         I.

         A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed for DIB alleging a disability onset date of June 9, 2012. PageID 2884. Plaintiff claims disability as a result of a number of alleged impairments including, inter alia, cervical and thoracolumbar degenerative disc disease with residuals of surgery, Arnold-Chiari malformation, headaches, should strain, Ehler's-Danlos Syndrome, depressive disorder, and an anxiety disorder. PageID 623.

         After an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Emily Ruth Statum on June 19, 2014. PageID 89-109. ALJ Statum issued a written decision on July 24, 2014 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 193-95. Plaintiff appealed the non-disability finding, and, with consent from the Commissioner, this Court remanded her claim for further consideration. PageID 695; Massie v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 3:16-cv-73 (S.D. Ohio Sep. 30, 2016).

         On remand, Plaintiff received a second administrative hearing on July 12, 2017 before ALJ Elizabeth A. Motta. PageID 671-96. ALJ Motta issued a written decision on October 25, 2017 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 620-40. Specifically, ALJ Motta found at Step Five that, based upon Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of light work, [2] “there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [Plaintiff] can perform[.]” PageID 630-40.

         Thereafter, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making ALJ Motta's non-disability finding the final administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 50-52. See Casey v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993). Plaintiff then filed this timely appeal. Cook v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 480 F.3d 432, 435 (6th Cir. 2007). This October 25, 2017 non-disability finding by ALJ Motta (hereinafter, “ALJ”) is now before the Court for review.

         B. Evidence of Record

         The evidence of record is adequately summarized in the ALJ's decision (PageID 40-60), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 11), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 15), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 16). The undersigned incorporates all of the foregoing and sets forth the facts relevant to this appeal herein.

         II.

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court's inquiry on a Social Security appeal is to determine (1) whether the ALJ's non-disability finding is supported by substantial evidence, and (2) whether the ALJ employed the correct legal criteria. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,478 F.3d 742, 745-46 (6th Cir. 2007). In performing this review, the ...


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