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Peters v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division

November 8, 2017

Delaina J. Peters, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Hon. Robert J. Jonker Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          PHILLIP J. GREEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This is a social security action brought under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security finding that plaintiff was not entitled to disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. On July 3, 2013, plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and SSI benefits, alleging an April 9, 2012, onset of disability. (Op. at 1, ECF No. 9-2, PageID.46). Plaintiff's claims were denied on initial review. (Id.). On January 22, 2015, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) conducted a hearing at which plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. (Id.). The ALJ issued a decision August 13, 2015, finding that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 14, PageID.59). On August 11, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review (ECF No. 9-2, PageID.30-32), and the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision.

         Plaintiff timely filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision. Plaintiff argues that the Commissioner's decision should be overturned on five grounds, which she identifies as follows:

I. ALJ PROTHRO OVERLOOKED A TREATOR'S OPINION
II. ALJ PROTHRO IGNORED SOME IMPAIRMENTS
III. ALJ PROTHRO'S CPP/MENTAL RFC FINDINGS ARE INCONSISTENT
IV. ALJ PROTHRO GAVE INADEQUATE REASONS TO REJECT PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINTS
V. ALJ PROTHRO GAVE INADEQUATE REASONS TO REJECT THE REPORT OF PLAINTIFF'S BROTHER

(Plf. Brief at 2, ECF No. 14, PageID.612). For the reasons contained herein, I recommend that the Commissioner's decision be vacated and the matter remanded to the Commissioner under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further administrative proceedings.

         Standard of Review

         When reviewing the grant or denial of social security benefits, this Court is to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the Commissioner correctly applied the law. See Elam ex rel. Golay v. Commissioner, 348 F.3d 124, 125 (6th Cir. 2003); Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 772 (6th Cir. 2001). Substantial evidence is defined as “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); see Rogers v. Commissioner, 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007).

         The scope of the Court's review is limited. Buxton, 246 F.3d at 772. The court does not review the evidence de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or make credibility determinations. See Ulman v. Commissioner, 693 F.3d 709, 713 (6th Cir. 2012); Walters v. Commissioner, 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). “The findings of the [Commissioner] as to any fact if supported by substantial evidence shall be conclusive . . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see McClanahan v. Commissioner, 474 F.3d 830, 833 (6th Cir. 2006). “The findings of the Commissioner are not subject to reversal merely because there exists in the record substantial evidence to support a different conclusion. . . . This is so because there is a ‘zone of choice' within which the Commissioner can act without fear of court interference.” Buxton, 246 F.3d at 772-73. “If supported by substantial evidence, the [Commissioner's] determination must stand regardless of whether the reviewing court would resolve the issues of fact in dispute differently.” Bogle v. Sullivan, 998 F.2d 342, 347 (6th Cir. 1993); see Gayheart v. Commissioner, 710 F.3d 365, 374 (6th Cir. 2013) (“A reviewing court will affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on substantial evidence, even if substantial evidence would have supported the opposite conclusion.”). “[T]he Commissioner's decision cannot be overturned if substantial evidence, or even a preponderance of the evidence supports the claimant's position, so long as substantial evidence also supports the conclusion reached by the ALJ.” Jones v. Commissioner, 336 F.3d 469, 477 (6th Cir. 2003); see Kyle v. Commissioner, 609 F.3d 847, 854 (6th Cir. 2010).

         The ...


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