United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
S. CARMODY United States Magistrate Judge
an action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to review a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's
claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II
of the Social Security Act. On March 8, 2016, the parties
agreed to proceed in this Court for all further proceedings,
including an order of final judgment. (ECF No. 7).
405(g) limits the Court to a review of the administrative
record and provides that if the Commissioner's decision
is supported by substantial evidence it shall be conclusive.
The Commissioner has found that Plaintiff is not disabled
within the meaning of the Act. For the reasons stated below,
the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
Court's jurisdiction is confined to a review of the
Commissioner's decision and of the record made in the
administrative hearing process. See Willbanks v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Services, 847 F.2d 301,
303 (6th Cir. 1988). The scope of judicial review in a social
security case is limited to determining whether the
Commissioner applied the proper legal standards in making her
decision and whether there exists in the record substantial
evidence supporting that decision. See Brainard v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Services, 889 F.2d 679,
681 (6th Cir. 1989).
Court may not conduct a de novo review of the case, resolve
evidentiary conflicts, or decide questions of credibility.
See Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir.
1984). It is the Commissioner who is charged with finding the
facts relevant to an application for disability benefits, and
her findings are conclusive provided they are supported by
substantial evidence. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla, but less than
a preponderance. See Cohen v. Sec'y of Dep't of
Health and Human Services, 964 F.2d 524, 528 (6th Cir.
1992) (citations omitted). It is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401 (1971); Bogle v. Sullivan, 998 F.2d 342, 347
(6th Cir. 1993). In determining the substantiality of the
evidence, the Court must consider the evidence on the record
as a whole and take into account whatever in the record
fairly detracts from its weight. See Richardson v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Services, 735 F.2d 962,
963 (6th Cir. 1984).
been widely recognized, the substantial evidence standard
presupposes the existence of a zone within which the decision
maker can properly rule either way, without judicial
interference. See Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545
(6th Cir. 1986) (citation omitted). This standard affords to
the administrative decision maker considerable latitude, and
indicates that a decision supported by substantial evidence
will not be reversed simply because the evidence would have
supported a contrary decision. See Bogle, 998 F.2d
at 347; Mullen, 800 F.2d at 545.
was 54 years of age on her alleged disability onset date.
(PageID.184). She earned a Bachelor's Degree in math and
chemistry and previously worked as a research scientist.
(PageID.56, 238). Plaintiff applied for benefits on June 12,
2013, alleging that she had been disabled since October 19,
2011, due to post-concussion syndrome and migraines.
(PageID.184-90, 237). Plaintiff's application was denied,
after which time she requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (PageID.104-78). On March 14,
2014, Plaintiff appeared before ALJ James Prothro with
testimony being offered by Plaintiff and a vocational expert.
(PageID.51-98). In a written decision dated June 6, 2014, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled.
(PageID.33-46). The Appeals Council declined to review the
ALJ's determination, rendering it the Commissioner's
final decision in the matter. (PageID.18-20). Plaintiff
subsequently initiated this pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of the ALJ's decision.
1981, Plaintiff underwent AVM resection
surgery. (PageID.295). There is nothing in the
record suggesting that Plaintiff experienced any further
symptoms or detriment from this condition following this
October 18, 2011, Plaintiff “fell approximately 7
steps” and “hit the back of her head.”
(PageID.295). Plaintiff did not lose consciousness following
this event, but nevertheless reported to a hospital.
(PageID.295). The results of a CT scan were unremarkable and
Plaintiff was found to be “neurologically
stable.” (PageID.295). On November 3, 2011, Plaintiff
participated in a CT scan of her head the results of which
revealed “stable appearance of the head without any
evidence of acute intracranial processes.”
February 27, 2012, Plaintiff participated in a
neuropsychological evaluation at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation
Hospital. (PageID.445-50). The examination revealed that
Plaintiff was only “marginally limited” and was
“doing well with basic tasks.” (PageID.446). The
examiner reported that Plaintiff's symptoms
“improved with physical therapy, though she is still
experiencing some mild symptoms.” (PageID.446). The
examiner reported that she “did not find any evidence
of pervasive cognitive impairment.” (PageID.447). The
examiner concluded that Plaintiff could return to work.
notes dated August 30, 2012, indicate that Plaintiff's
cerebellar function was “intact.” (PageID.407).
On September 7, 2012, Plaintiff participated in an EEG
examination the results of which were “within normal
limits” with “no epileptogenic or paroxysmal
April 27, 2013, Plaintiff was examined by James Lozer, Ed.D.
(PageID.438-43). With respect to Plaintiff's activity
level, the doctor observed:
She is independent in her self care. A typical day has her
rising about 5 A.M. and retiring about 8 P.M. Once up for the
day, “I get up, take that damn thyroid pill, read, do
laundry, bake bread, pay bills, make breakfast for my
daughter, get her out the door, sew or play in my garden, lay
down about an hour, pick up the house, make lunch, read, look
at daughter's homework, eat dinner with husband, fall
asleep about 8 PM.”
In my opinion, the claimant would be able to engage in full
time competitive work in a less stressful occupation with
fewer demands from a psychological point of view. It is
important for her to continue her counseling to help her cope
with the loss of her job. Alternative treatments such as