United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a social security action brought under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(Commissioner). Plaintiff Febra Schaub seeks review of the
Commissioner's decision denying her claim for disability
insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social
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 & Human
Servs., 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989). The 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).
evidence is more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance. See Cohen v. Sec'y of Health &
Human Servs., 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 evidence in the
record fairly detracts from its weight. See Richardson v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 735 F.2d 962,
963 (6th Cir. 1984). 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 fifty-two years of age on the date of the Administrative
Law Judge's (ALJ) decision. (PageID.181, 208.) She
completed high school, obtained a certificate from community
college, and was previously employed as a billing clerk.
(PageID.209. 234.) Plaintiff applied for benefits on March 8,
2013, alleging that she had been disabled since December 18,
2002 due to depression, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble
sleeping, and fatigue. (PageID.239, 300-301.) Plaintiff's
application was denied on August 27, 2013, after which time
she requested a hearing before an ALJ. (PageID.249-252,
255-256.) On September 3, 2014, Plaintiff appeared with her
counsel before ALJ Donna Grit for an administrative hearing,
with testimony being offered by Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE). (PageID.203-236.) On October 14, 2014, the ALJ
issued her written decision that found Plaintiff was not
disabled. (PageID.181-202.) On November 24, 2015, the Appeals
Council declined to review the ALJ's decision, making it
the Commissioner's final decision in the matter.
(PageID.19-25.) Plaintiff subsequently initiated this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
social security regulations articulate a five-step sequential
process for evaluating disability. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a-f). If the Commissioner can make a dispositive
finding at any point in the review, no further finding is
required. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). The
regulations also provide that if a claimant suffers from a
nonexertional impairment as well as an exertional impairment,
both are considered in determining the claimant's
residual functional capacity (RFC). See 20 C.F.R.
has the burden of proving the existence and severity of
limitations caused by her impairments and that she is
precluded from performing past relevant work through step
four. Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d
469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003). At step five, it is the
Commissioner's burden “to identify a significant
number of jobs in the economy that accommodate the
claimant's residual functional capacity (determined at
step four) and vocational profile.” Id.
Grit determined that Plaintiff's claim failed at the
fourth step of the evaluation. At step one, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since July 3, 2012, her amended alleged onset date.
(PageID.186.) At step two, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had
the following severe impairments: (1) hammertoes of fifth
digit of bilateral feet; (2) history of left medial
meniscectomy with left knee degenerative changes; (3)
fibromyalgia; and (4) degenerative changes of the right
shoulder / adhesive capsulitis, s/p arthroscopy.
(PageID.186.) At the third step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that
met or equaled the requirements of the Listing of
Impairments. (PageID.189-190.) At the fourth step, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff retained the RFC based on all the
to perform less than a full range of light work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(b). The claimant could lift and carry 20
pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; and in an
8-hour workday with normal breaks, she could stand and walk
for a total of about 6 hours and could sit for a total of
about 6 hours. She could not climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; could occasionally stoop, crouch, crawl, kneel and
balance; should have only occasional exposure to extremes of
cold and dampness; and should not work at unprotected
(PageID.190.) Continuing with the fourth step, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing her past
relevant work as a billing clerk. The ALJ determined that
this work did not require the performance of work-related
activities that would be precluded by Plaintiff's RFC.
(PageID.195-196.) Having made her determination, the ALJ
completed her analysis and was not required to proceed
the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled at any
point from her amended alleged onset date through the date of
ALJ Properly Considered The Medical Opinions in the
submitted several opinions from medical professionals in
support of her application for benefits. In her first claim
of error, Plaintiff claims the ALJ erred in failing to assign
controlling weight to these opinions, and erred in giving
great weight to the ...