United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HONORABLE ROBERT J. JONKER 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 January 15,
2015, plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and SSI
benefits. She alleged an October 15, 2007, onset of
disability. (ECF No. 6-5, PageID.267, 269). Plaintiff's
claims were denied on initial review. (ECF No. 6-4,
PageID.185-200). On November 6, 2017, plaintiff received a
hearing before the ALJ. (ECF No. 6-2, PageID.67-141). The ALJ
issued his decision on March 12, 2018, finding that plaintiff
was not disabled. (Op., ECF No. 6-2, PageID.48-60). On
November 13, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review (ECF No.
6-2, PageID.32-34), rendering the ALJ's decision 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
following ground: “As treating physicians, the opinions
of John Schneider, M.D., and Gary Detweiler, PA-C, should be
given controlling weight.” (Plf. Brief, 10, ECF No. 11,
reasons set forth herein, I recommend that the Court affirm
the Commissioner's decision.
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). 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; 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.”).
found that plaintiff met the disability insured requirements
of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2008. (Op.,
4, ECF No. 6-2, PageID.51). Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity on or after October 15, 2007,
the alleged onset date. (Id.). Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: “degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine post discectomy in 2007, left
foot and ankle posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, post left
foot surgery, left plantar fasciitis, asthma, pain disorder,
obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder,
adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood,
irritable bowel syndrome, chronic interstitial cystitis, and
obesity.” (Id.). Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled
a listing impairment. (Id.). The ALJ found that
plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (RFC) for
a range of sedentary work with the following exceptions:
requires the option to alternate sitting and standing 1 to 2
times every hour; no operation of foot controls with the left
lower extremity; no exposure to extreme temperatures;
occasional exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gasses, and areas
of poor ventilation; no exposure to wetness or humidity; no
ambulation over uneven terrain; occasionally climb ramps and
stairs; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
occasionally balance, stoop, and crouch; no kneeling or
crawling; no exposure to hazards including unprotected
heights and dangerous moving machinery; occasional overhead
reaching bilaterally; limited to doing simple, routine work
involving simple work-related decisions and tolerating
occasional workplace changes.
(Id. at 7, PageID.54).
found that plaintiff's statements concerning the
intensity, persistence and limiting effects of her symptoms
were not entirely consistent with the medical evidence and
the other evidence of record. (Id. at 7-8,
PageID.54-55). Plaintiff could not perform any past relevant
work. (Id. at 11, PageID.58).
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 vocational expert (VE) testified that there
were approximately 275, 000 jobs that exist in the national
economy that she would be capable of performing. (ECF No.
6-2, PageID.133-36). The ALJ found that ...