United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
PHILLIP J. GREEN United States Magistrate 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 seeks review of the
Commissioner's decision denying his claim for Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
Section 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.
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 the
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.
protectively filed his applications for DIB and SSI in March
2012, alleging an April 20, 2012, onset of
disability. (PageID.344-49, 359-60, 378).
Plaintiff's applications were denied at the initial level
(PageID.161-72), and he requested an administrative hearing
(PageID.200-01). The administrative law judge (ALJ) held a
hearing on April 8, 2013 (PageID.117-59), and, on May 24,
2013, issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not
disabled (PageID.173-87). On September 10, 2014, the Appeals
Council reviewed this decision, and remanded plaintiff's
claims for a new hearing. (PageID.191-93). Upon remand, a
different ALJ held a hearing on January 21, 2015
(PageID.63-116), and, on May 28, 2015, issued a new decision,
again finding that plaintiff was not disabled (PageID.41-56).
The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review
of this decision on April 12, 2016. (PageID.25-27). This
filed this action, pro se, on May 17, 2016.
(Complaint, ECF No. 1). On June 2, 2016, the Court granted
plaintiff's motion to proceed in forma pauperis.
(ECF No. 4). By notice entered August 8, 2016, the Court
directed the parties to file briefs in support of their
respective positions, plaintiff by September 12, 2016, and
the Commissioner by October 17, 2016. (ECF No. 9). The Court
noted its expectation of strict compliance with the briefing
requirements. (See id., PageID.787).
September 15, 2016, the Court issued a show-cause order, as a
result of plaintiff's failure to file his brief,
requiring plaintiff “to show cause in writing why this
case should not be dismissed for his failure to file a brief
in accordance with the court's notice (ECF No. 9).”
(ECF No. 13, PageID.798 (citing W.D. Mich. LCivR 41.1)).
Plaintiff responded on September 21, 2016, simply noting that
his niece wrote “a letter” on August 17, 2016, to
“tell [the Court] that [he is] disable[d] and the
[problems he has].” (ECF No. 14, PageID.799). The Court
found this letter attached to the Joint Statement Regarding
Consent, which was filed August 17, 2016; it reads in full as
To whom it may concern.
The purpose for Joe Price requesting SSI is because of his
mental health. He is mentally retarded I believe. Simple
things that most people can do he can't or you have to
tell him over and over and he still may not do it. He suffers
from [schizophrenia], he often talks to himself and seems to
be in another world. He is a very hard person to deal with
sometimes because of his mental state. It takes a lot of love
and patience when dealing with him. As time goes by it seems
to worse[n], he needs held with more things then before.
Hopefully he will finally get the help he needs.
(ECF No. 11-1, PageID.796). It is signed “N. Price,
” and it is dated August 10, 2016. (Id.).
October 13, 2016, the Commissioner filed her brief. (ECF No.
15). The Commissioner argues that the ALJ properly determined
that plaintiff was not disabled from April 20, 2012, his
amended date of alleged onset of disability, through the date
of the ALJ's decision. (Id., PageID.804-09). The
Court has received no further submissions from plaintiff.