United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Raymond R. Boza, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
HONORABLE PAUL L. MALONEY JUDGE.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PHILLIP J. GREEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
a social security action brought under 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g), 1383(c)(3), seeking 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 September 24,
2013, plaintiff filed his applications for DIB and SSI
benefits. Plaintiff alleged an August 24, 2012, onset of
disability. (ECF No. 7-5, PageID.189-95). Plaintiff's
claims were denied on initial review. (ECF No. 7-4,
PageID.119-22). On June 23, 2015, he received a hearing
before an ALJ. (ECF No. 7-2, PageID.72-106). On September 2,
2015, the ALJ issued her decision finding that plaintiff was
not disabled. (Op., ECF No. 7-2, PageID.58-67). On September
19, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review (ECF No. 7-2,
PageID.40-43), and the ALJs decision became the
Commissioner's final decision.
filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision. Plaintiff argues that the
Commissioner's decision should be overturned on the
I. The ALJ did not build an accurate and logical bridge
between the evidence and her findings regarding
II. The ALJ improperly assessed plaintiff's subjective
(Plf. Brief at 7, 11, ECF No. 11, PageID.536, 540). I
recommend that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed.
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.'” Heston v.
Commissioner, 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir. 2001) (quoting
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).
found that plaintiff met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act through December 31, 2017. (Op. at 3,
ECF No. 7-2, PageID.60). Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity on or after August 24, 2012, the
alleged onset date. (Id.). Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: lumbar disc displacement,
lumbar degenerative disc disease with radiculopathy, cervical
spine degenerative disc disease, and obesity. (Id.).
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments which met or equaled the requirements of the
listing of impairments. (Id. at 4, PageID.61). The
ALJ found that plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (RFC) for a limited range of light work:
After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), subject to the following
limitations. The claimant can lift and carry 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, can stand and/or walk
20 minutes at a time for up to four hours per day, stand/walk
four hours total in an eight-hour workday, and can sit 30
minutes at a time up to five hours during an eight-hour
workday. His ability to push and/or pull is unlimited, other
than as shown for lift and/or carry. Further, the claimant
can frequently balance, kneel, crouch and crawl. He can
occasionally climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps and
stairs, and occasionally stoop. Finally, the claimant can
occasionally tolerate vibrations in the work setting. He can
occasionally walk on rough or uneven surfaces, but on such
surfaces would require a walking stick or other assistive
device. He can have no work at unprotected heights or in the
vicinity of unprotected dangerous machinery.
(Op. at 4-5, PageID.61-62). The ALJ found that
plaintiff's testimony regarding his subjective
limitations was not fully credible. (Id. at 5-8,
PageID.62-65). Plaintiff could not perform any past relevant
work. (Id. at 8, PageID.65). He was 36 years old as
of the date of alleged onset of his disability and 39 years
old on the date of the ALJ's decision. Thus, at all times
relevant to his claims for DIB and SSI benefits, plaintiff
was classified as a younger individual. (Id.).
relied on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE). In
response to a hypothetical question regarding a person of
plaintiff's age with his RFC, education, and work
experience, the VE testified that there were approximately
are 467, 000 jobs that exist in the national economy that the
hypothetical person would be capable of performing. (ECF No.
7-2, PageID.95-100). The ALJ found that this constituted a
significant number of jobs. Using Rule 202.21 of the