United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
H. Rice District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
L. Ovington United States Magistrate Judge.
Victoria Wright has suffered for many years with back pain
and other health problems. She brings this case challenging
the Social Security Administration's denial of her
applications for period of disability, Disability Insurance
Benefits, and Supplemental Security Income. She applied for
benefits in March 2015, asserting that she could no longer
work a substantial paid job. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
Mark Hockensmith concluded that she was not eligible for
benefits because she is not under a “disability”
as defined in the Social Security Act.
case is before the Court upon Plaintiff's Statement of
Errors (Doc. #7), the Commissioner's Memorandum in
Opposition (Doc. #11), Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. #12), and
the administrative record (Doc. #6).
seeks a remand of this case for payment of benefits or, at a
minimum, for further proceedings. The Commissioner asks the
Court to affirm ALJ Hockensmith's non-disability
asserts that she has been under a “disability”
since March 15, 2015. She was fifty years old at that time
and was therefore considered a person “closely
approaching advanced age” under Social Security
Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1563(d),
416.963(d). She has a high school education. See Id.
§§ 404.1564(b)(4), 416.964(b)(4).
evidence of record is sufficiently summarized in the
ALJ's decision (Doc. #6, PageID #s 60-75),
Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (Doc. #7), the
Commissioner's Memorandum in Opposition (Doc. #11), and
Plaintiff's Reply. Rather than repeat these summaries,
the pertinent evidence will be discussed when addressing the
Standard of Review
Social Security Administration provides Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income to individuals who
are under a “disability, ” among other
eligibility requirements. Bowen v. City of New York,
476 U.S. 467, 470 (1986); see 42 U.S.C. §§
423(a)(1), 1382(a). The term “disability”-as
defined by the Social Security Act-has specialized meaning of
limited scope. It encompasses “any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment” that
precludes an applicant from performing a significant paid
job-i.e., “substantial gainful activity, ” in
Social Security lexicon. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A); see Bowen, 476 U.S. at 469-70.
review of an ALJ's non-disability decision proceeds along
two lines: “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, 406 (6th Cir. 2009); see
Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 745-46
(6th Cir. 2007). Review for substantial evidence is not
driven by whether the Court agrees or disagrees with the
ALJ's factual findings or by whether the administrative
record contains evidence contrary to those factual findings.
Gentry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 741 F.3d 708, 722
(6th Cir. 2014); Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007). Instead, the ALJ's
factual findings are upheld if the substantial-evidence
standard is met-that is, “if a ‘reasonable mind
might accept the relevant evidence as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Blakley, 581 F.3d at 407
(quoting Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d
387, 390 (6th Cir. 2004)). Substantial evidence consists of
“more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a
preponderance . . . .” Rogers, 486 F.3d at 241
(citations and internal quotation marks omitted); see
Gentry, 741 F.3d at 722.
other line of judicial inquiry-reviewing the correctness of
the ALJ's legal criteria-may result in reversal even when
the record contains substantial evidence supporting the
ALJ's factual findings. Rabbers v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009); see
Bowen, 478 F.3d at 746. “[E]ven if supported by
substantial evidence, ‘a decision of the Commissioner
will not be upheld where the SSA 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
in part Bowen, 478 F.3d at 746, and citing
Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541,
546-47 (6th Cir. 2004)).
The ALJ's Decision
noted previously, it fell to ALJ Hockensmith to evaluate the
evidence connected to Plaintiff's applications for
benefits. He did so by considering each of the five
sequential steps set forth in the Social Security
Regulations. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. He
reached the following main conclusions:
Step 1: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
employment since March 15, 2015.
Step 2: She has the severe impairments of degenerative disc
disease of the cervical and lumbar spine; mild arthritis of
the left hip; mild right knee osteoarthritis; obesity;
bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome; hypertension; ...