United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Janet T. Neff 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 October 22,
2013, plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and SSI
benefits. Plaintiff alleged an August 31, 2011, onset of
disability. (ECF No. 7-5, PageID.209-16). Plaintiff's
claims were denied on initial review. (ECF No. 7-4,
PageID.138-45). On April 16, 2015, she received a hearing
before an ALJ. (ECF No. 7-2, PageID.66-117). On October 8,
2015, the ALJ issued his decision finding that plaintiff was
not disabled. (Op., ECF No. 7-2, PageID.45-61). On November
30, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review (ECF No. 7-2,
PageID.32-35), 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. The ALJ failed to give proper weight to the findings and
opinion of plaintiff's treating physician, as required by
20 C.F.R §§ 404.1527(c), 416.927(c). Had he given
Dr. Vega's opinions proper weight, plaintiff would have
been limited to less than sedentary work and found disabled.
II. The ALJ's findings regarding plaintiff's RFC are
not supported by substantial evidence.
1. The ALJ did not use the proper standards in addressing Dr.
Vega's opinion or third party evidence from Amy Vincent,
as required by 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(c),
416.927(c), and SSR 06-3p.
2. The ALJ rejected all the medical opinions and there is no
medical opinion that supports the RFC finding.
3. The ALJ impermissibly interpreted raw medical data in
reaching his RFC findings.
4. The ALJ did not follow the applicable law when he
addressed plaintiff's allegations of pain and his
credibility findings are not supported by substantial
(Plf. Brief at iii, ECF No. 11, PageID.516). 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 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 December 31, 2016. (Op. at
3, ECF No. 7-2, PageID.47). Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity on or after August 31, 2011, the
alleged onset date. (Id.). Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: “Type II diabetes
mellitus without complication, polyarthritic arthralgias,
rheumatoid arthritis, tenosynovitis, status post-stroke with
mild residuals of right sided weakness, obesity, and
depression.” (Id.). Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled
the requirements of a listing impairment. The ALJ found that
plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) for
a range of light work with the following exceptions:
she can perform occasional climbing and balancing. She is
limited to frequent handling, fingering, pushing and pulling
with the upper extremities. She is limited to simple work.
She would not be able to do any fast-paced work.
(Op. at 7, PageID.51). The ALJ found that plaintiff's
testimony regarding her subjective limitations was not fully
credible. (Id. at 7-13, PageID.51-57). Plaintiff
could not perform any past relevant work. (Id. at
considered the testimony of a vocational expert (VE). In
response to a hypothetical question regarding a person of
plaintiff's age with her RFC, education, and work
experience, the VE testified that there were approximately
52, 000 jobs that exist in the Michigan economy that the
hypothetical person would be capable of performing. (ECF No.
7-2, PageID.110-11). The ALJ found that this constituted a
significant number of jobs and found that plaintiff was not
disabled. (Op. at 16-17, PageID.60-61).
argues that the ALJ failed to give proper weight to the
findings and opinion of Louis Vega, M.D., a treating
physician, and that the ALJ did not use proper standards in
addressing the opinions of Dr. Vega and Ms. Amy Vincent as
required by 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(c), 416.927(c)
and SSR 06-3p. (Plf. Brief at iii, 8-14, ECF No. 11,