United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HONORABLE GORDON J. QUIST 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 April 22,
2014, plaintiff filed his applications for DIB and SSI
benefits. Plaintiff alleged a June 22, 2013, onset of
disability. (ECF No. 9-5, PageID.187-97). Plaintiff's
claims were denied on initial review. (ECF No. 9-4,
PageID.126-33). On September 23, 2015, he received a hearing
before an ALJ. (ECF No. 9-2, PageID.66-99). On October 28,
2015, the ALJ issued his decision finding that plaintiff was
not disabled. (Op., ECF No. 9-2, PageID.50-61). On September
27, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review (ECF No. 9-2,
PageID.33-36), and the ALJ's decision became the
Commissioner's final decision.
timely filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision. Plaintiff argues that the
Commissioner's decision should be overturned on the
I. Did the ALJ fail to comply with 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527
in not according adequate weight to the opinion of Mr.
Huckfeldt's treating physicians because he failed to
consider the various factors set forth in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c) in evaluating the opinion of the treating
II. Did the ALJ err in failing to find that Mr.
Huckfeldt's vestibular disorder, in combination with
other impairments, meets and/or equals the criteria of
Listing 11.03 and or Listing 11.14 and did the ALJ and the
Appeals Council further err in evaluating this case at
step 3 of the sequential evaluation process in summarily
concluding that “no acceptable medical source has
mentioned findings equivalent in severity to the criteria of
any listed impairment, individually or in combination,
” when such evidence was in the record and in failing
to provide sufficient reasons for discrediting the treating
specialist physician's opinion that Listing 11.03 was met
III. Did the ALJ violate SSR 96-8p in not explaining how Mr.
Huckfeldt's asthma, GERD, lymphoma and obstructive sleep
apnea affected his ability to work?
(Plf. Brief at 1, ECF No. 13, PageID.739). 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.
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 of Social
Security 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 disability insured requirements
of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2018. (Op. at 3,
ECF No. 9-2, PageID.52). Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity on or after June 22, 2013, the
alleged onset date. (Id.). Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: mild traumatic brain injury
status-post motorcycle accident, fracture of the left upper
extremity, left leg swelling, dizziness, and obesity.
(Id.). Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or equaled the
requirements of a listing impairment. (Id. at 4,
PageID.53). The ALJ found that plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (RFC) for a range of light work
with the following exceptions:
he can only occasionally bend, turn, crouch, stoop, climb,
crawl, or kneel. He is unable to walk greater than two city
blocks at any given time. He is unable to work around moving
machinery or unprotected heights.
(Op. at 4, PageID.53). The ALJ found that plaintiff's
testimony regarding his subjective limitations was not fully
credible. (Id. at 4-10, PageID.53-59). Plaintiff
could not perform any ...