United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. LIMBERT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Marcella Long (“Plaintiff”) requests judicial
review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (“Defendant”)
denying her application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). ECF Dkt. #1. In her brief on the merits,
filed on February 11, 2019, Plaintiff asserts that the
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) committed two
errors warranting a reversal and/or remand of her case. ECF
Dkt. #14. On April 26, 2019, Defendant filed a brief on the
merits. ECF Dkt. #17. For the following reasons, the Court
AFFIRMS the ALJ's decision and DISMISSES Plaintiff's
case in its entirety WITH PREJUDICE.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
protectively filed an application for DIB and SSI in November
2015, alleging disability beginning November 13, 2014 due to
spinal synopsis/back problems, troubles standing, troubles
walking, leg problems, and diabetes. ECF Dkt. #10
(“Tr.”) at 67, 75, 83-84, 172, 176.
Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Id. at 74, 82, 95, 106. On June 17,
2016, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing.
Id. at 131.
October 13, 2017, a hearing was held before an ALJ in which
Plaintiff, with counsel present, and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified. Tr. at 27. The ALJ issued his
decision on February 15, 2018, finding Plaintiff not disabled
and denying her applications for DIB and SSI. Id. at
9-21. Plaintiff requested a review of the hearing decision,
and on August 13, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review.
Id. at 1-4. On October 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed the
instant suit seeking review of the ALJ's decision. ECF
Dkt. #1. On December 17, 2018, the parties consented to the
authority of a Magistrate Judge. ECF Dkt. #11; #12. Plaintiff
filed a merits brief on February 11, 2019 and Defendant filed
a merits brief on April 26, 2019. ECF Dkt. #14; #17.
RELEVANT PORTIONS OF THE ALJ'S DECISION
February 15, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision finding that
Plaintiff was not disabled. Tr. at 9-21. The ALJ stated that
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act through December 31, 2019. Id. at 14.
He further found that despite having worked after the alleged
disability onset date, Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since November 13, 2014, the
alleged onset date. Id. Continuing, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: diabetes; hypothyroidism; essential
hypertension; Grade 1 anterior spondylolisthesis and disc
space narrowing at ¶ 4-5 with evidence of instability on
the flexion and extension views; straightening of the
cervical lordotic curve with decrease and slight osteophyte
formation at ¶ 5-6; and obesity. Id. at 15. The
ALJ then indicated that Plaintiff did not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled
the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id.
consideration of the record, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(b) and 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b) with the
following restrictions: can occasionally lift and carry 20
pounds and frequently lift and carry 10 pounds; is able to
stand and walk 4 hours of an 8-hour workday; can never climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps
or stairs; can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or
crawl; and can never be exposed to unprotected heights,
moving mechanical parts and never operate a motor vehicle.
Tr. at 15-16. The ALJ then stated that Plaintiff was capable
of performing past relevant work as a dispatcher and cashier
and that this work does not require the performance of
work-related activities precluded by the Plaintiff's RFC.
Id. at 19. Ultimately, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had not been under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, from November 13, 2014 through the date
of his decision. Id. at 21.
STEPS TO EVALUATE ENTITLEMENT TO SOCIAL SECURITY
must proceed through the required sequential steps for
evaluating entitlement to Social Security benefits. These
1. An individual who is working and engaging in substantial
gainful activity will not be found to be
“disabled” regardless of medical findings (20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b) and 416.920(b) (1992));
2. An individual who does not have a “severe
impairment” will not be found to be
“disabled” (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c)
and 416.920(c) (1992));
3. If an individual is not working and is suffering from a
severe impairment which meets the duration requirement, see
20 C.F.R. § 404.1509 and 416.909 (1992), and which meets
or is equivalent to a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404,
Subpt. P, App. 1, a finding of disabled will be made without
consideration of vocational factors (20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d) and 416.920(d) (1992));
4. If an individual is capable of performing the kind of work
he or she has done in the past, a finding of “not
disabled” must be made (20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(e) and 416.920(e) (1992));
5. If an individual's impairment is so severe as to
preclude the performance of the kind of work he or she has
done in the past, other factors including age, education,
past work experience and residual functional capacity must be
considered to determine if other work can be performed (20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f) (1992)).
Hogg v. Sullivan, 987 F.2d 328, 332 (6th Cir. 1992).
The plaintiff has the burden to go forward with the evidence
in the first four steps and the Commissioner has the burden
in the fifth step. Moon v. Sullivan, ...