United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
Jeffery D. Searer, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
ZOUHARY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jeffery Searer seeks judicial review of an adverse social
security decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This case
was referred to Magistrate Judge Thomas Parker for a Report
and Recommendation (“R&R”) under Local Civil
Rule 72.2(b)(2). Judge Parker recommends this Court affirm
the Commissioner's decision denying Searer's claim
for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) (Doc.
18 at 19).
matter is now before this Court on Searer's Objection to
the R&R (Doc. 19) and the Commissioner's Response
(Doc. 20). This Court has reviewed the Magistrate Judge's
findings de novo in accordance with Hill v. Duriron
Co., 656 F.2d 1208 (6th Cir. 1981) and 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) & (C). For the reasons below, this Court
adopts the R&R and denies the claim for benefits.
R&R accurately recites the relevant factual and
procedural background, which this Court adopts (Doc. 18 at
1-10). Briefly, Searer, who was 44-years-old at the time of
alleged onset, previously worked as a welder and machine
operator and has a GED (Tr. 24-25, 268, 288). He claims DIB
based on “back problems, spinal stenosis, neck pain
causing headaches, numbness in right arm, heart problems
[stemming from a heart attack], anxiety attacks, and knee
pain” (Tr. 304, 318).
reviewing a denial of DIB, this Court “must affirm the
Commissioner's conclusions absent a determination that
the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal
standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by
substantial evidence in the record.” Walters v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir.
1997) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)). Judicial review is
limited to “whether the ALJ applied the correct legal
standards and whether the findings of the ALJ are supported
by substantial evidence.” Blakley v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009). The
Commissioner's findings “as to any fact if
supported by substantial evidence shall be conclusive.”
McClanahan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830,
833 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)).
argues the ALJ failed to properly address whether his
impairments met or equaled Listing 1.04C (Doc. 19 at 2).
Judge Parker determined the ALJ's failure to expressly
address Listing 1.04C was harmless because the ALJ implicitly
determined Searer did not meet the requirements of Listing
1.04C and Searer failed to produce sufficient evidence that
his impairments met or equaled the Listing (Doc. 18 at 18).
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4), the ALJ must complete a
five-step process to determine whether a person is disabled.
At step three, the ALJ must “consider the medical
severity of [the applicant's] impairment(s). If [the
applicant has] an impairment(s) that meets or equals one of
our listings in appendix 1 of this subpart and meets the
duration requirement, [the ALJ] will find that [the
applicant] disabled.” 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(iii). The claimant bears the burden of showing
that the impairment or combination of impairments meets all
criteria set forth by the listing. Evans v. Sec'y of
H.H.S., 820 F.2d 161, 164 (6th Cir. 1987). The claimant
may also qualify by showing that the impairment or
combination of impairments is the “medical
equivalent” of the listing. Id. This means the
impairment is “at least equal in severity and duration
to the criteria of any listed impairment.” Reynolds
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 424 Fed.Appx. 411, 414 (6th
Cir. 2011) (quoting 20 C.F.R. § 416.926(a); 20 C.F.R.
argues he produced sufficient evidence to show he met or
equaled medical impairment Listing 1.04C for lumbar spinal
stenosis (Doc. 19 at 2). To meet Listing 1.04C, a claimant
must show the impairment results in “compromise of a
nerve root . . . or the spinal cord, ” along with: (1)
“lumbar spinal stenosis resulting in
pseudoclaudication;” (2) “established by findings
on appropriate medically acceptable imaging;” (3)
“manifested by chronic nonradicular pain and
weakness;” that (4) “result[s] in inability to
ambulate effectively, as defined in 1.00B2b.” 20 C.F.R.
§ Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1 § 1.04C.
1.00B2b defines the fourth requirement -- the inability to
ambulate effectively -- as “an extreme limitation of
the ability to walk.” 20 C.F.R. § Pt. 404, Subpt.
P, App. 1 § 1.00B2b(1). To be able to ambulate
effectively, an individual must be able to “sustain a
reasonable walking pace over a sufficient distance to be able
to carry out activities of daily living” and must be
able to travel to and from work or school without assistance.
Id. § 1.00B2b(2). Section 1.00B2b(2) sets forth
a non-exhaustive list of ...