David Doran v. Commissioner of Social Securit
Per Curiam OPINION: the district court's order is AFFIRMED, decision not for publication pursuant to local rule 206. Damon J. Keith, Circuit Judge; Boyce F. Martin , Jr., Circuit Judge and Julia Smith Gibbons, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 12a0284n.06
Mar 13, 2012
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
LEONARD GREEN, Clerk
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
Before: KEITH, MARTIN, and GIBBONS, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. David Doran, who is represented by counsel, appeals a district court order
that granted the government’s motion to alter or amend its previous decision that reversed the
Commissioner’s denial of his application for social security disability insurance benefits.
Doran filed his application for benefits in November 2000, alleging that he was disabled due
to a rotator cuff tear in his left shoulder, a left arm and shoulder impingement, depression, and
anxiety. Doran has a high school education and was previously employed as an ironworker, soldier,
equipment operator, and construction worker. Although Doran has not worked since July 2000, he
returned to school to study computer science.
An administrative law judge (ALJ) held three hearings on Doran’s application for benefits
before concluding that Doran could still perform a significant number of jobs in the economy despite
his impairments. The Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ’s decision, which therefore
constitutes the final decision of the Commissioner. Kyle v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 609 F.3d 847, 854
(6th Cir. 2010). Thereafter, Doran filed a timely request for judicial review with the district court.
-2The district court remanded the case to Commissioner for further analysis regarding the
inconsistencies between statements made by the vocational expert and the definitions in the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles concerning the jobs which Doran was found to be able to perform
by the Commissioner.
At a 2006 hearing, following the remand, a vocational expert testified that a person with
Doran’s limitations could perform such jobs as an office clerk, security guard, and parking lot
attendant. Following this hearing, the ALJ again denied Doran’s request for benefits based on the
vocational expert’s testimony. The Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ’s decision.
Doran again sought judicial review of the Commissioner’s decision. The case was referred
to a magistrate judge who recommended affirming the denial of benefits. The magistrate judge
rejected Doran’s argument that the vocational expert’s testimony was inconsistent with the residual
functional capacity determination made by the ALJ. The magistrate judge also rejected Doran’s
objection that office clerk jobs in the local and national economy did not exist in a significant
Doran filed objections to the magistrate judge’s report, but the government did not file a
response. The district court reversed the Commissioner’s decision with instructions to award
benefits because the government had failed to respond to Doran’s objections. The government then
filed a motion to alter or amend the district court’s decision, pursuant to Federal Rule Civil
Procedure 59(e), arguing that it had not waived its challenge to Doran’s claim simply because it had
opted not to file a response to Doran’s objections. The district court granted the government’s Rule
59(e) motion, finding that the Commissioner’s decision was supported by substantial evidence.
On appeal, Doran challenges the district court’s grant of the Rule 59 motion which resulted
in the denial of benefits. He also contends that the Commissioner’s decision is not supported by
substantial evidence and that there are not a substantial number of jobs in the economy that he could
The vocational expert based her opinion on the exhibits in the record showing that Doran
could lift ten pounds or under, could walk or stand six and one-half to eight hours per day, and could
-3sit five and one-half hours to eight hours per day. The vocational expert noted that Doran’s ability
to concentrate and to be supervised were impaired. The vocational expert stated that Doran’s
impairments prevented him from working directly with the general public or performing a job that
was inherently highly stressful. Doran was not precluded, however, from performing activities with
regular attendance and a regular schedule. Doran could complete a normal workday and workweek
without interruptions from psychologically-based symptoms. He could also perform at a consistent
pace without an unreasonable number of rest periods.
The vocational expert testified that a person with Doran’s limitations could perform such
positions as an office clerk, night security guard, and parking lot attendant. The vocational expert
noted that there were no discrepancies between the descriptions of these jobs in the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles and her testimony regarding the physical and mental requirements of these jobs.
Doran argues that the government should not have been permitted to oppose Doran’s claim
by filing a Rule 59 motion, rather than filing objections to the magistrate judge’s report. The
argument is without merit. As we have explained for decades, the waiver rule approved in Thomas
v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (1985), is not jurisdictional. Kent v. Johnson, 821 F.2d 1220, 1222-23 (6th
Cir. 1987); Patterson v. Mintzes, 717 F.2d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1983). We are free to address the
parties’ claims on the merits. See Vaughn v. Lawrenceburg Power Sys., 269 F.3d 703, 714-15 (6th
Cir. 2001). A district court may grant a timely Rule 59 motion to alter or amend judgment to correct
a clear error of law; to account for newly discovered evidence or an intervening change in the
controlling law; or to otherwise prevent manifest injustice. GenCorp, Inc. v. Am. Int’l Underwriters,
178 F.3d 804, 834 (6th Cir. 1999).
In social security cases, we must determine whether the Commissioner’s findings of fact are
supported by substantial evidence, and whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal
standards. Blakey v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009). A decision is
supported by substantial evidence when “a reasonable mind might accept the relevant evidence as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Warner v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390 (6th Cir.
2004) (internal quotation marks omitted). We defer to an ALJ’s findings if they are supported by
-4substantial evidence, even if the record supports an opposite conclusion. Lindsley v. Comm’r of Soc.
Sec., 560 F.3d 601, 604-05 (6th Cir. 2009).
The basis of Doran’s appeal is that the vocational expert did not accurately reflect the ALJ’s
determinations regarding Doran’s residual functional capacity, including his skill level and exertional
capabilities. Doran also argues that, by referring to the medical-vocational guidelines, see 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, the ALJ had determined that Doran could perform only unskilled
sedentary jobs, and that only one job described by the vocational expert fell into this category. Doran
then argues that, as a result, the government failed to meet its burden at step five of the sequential
evaluation of his disability because there are not a significant number of available jobs for this
position. See Cole v. Asture, 661 F. 3d 931, 939 (6th Cir. 2011).
The vocational expert explained, and took into account, any discrepancy between the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles and her testimony, including the combination skilled and semiskilled jobs under the Dictionary of Occupational Titles’s office clerk position. The vocational
expert excluded those positions requiring semi-skilled work. Therefore, the ALJ properly relied on
the vocational expert’s testimony, which included the vocational expert’s personal observations and
experience with jobs requiring such “mixed” ranges of skills and exertion. See 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404,
Subpt P, App. 2, § 200.00(d).
Regarding the number of available unskilled office jobs, we have found no “magic number”
in evaluating whether a job exists in significant numbers. This factor is determined on a case-bycase basis. See Hall v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 272, 275 (6th Cir. 1988). However, we need not decide this
issue because for the other positions that the vocational expert identified that Doran could perform,
the security guard and parking lot attendant positions, because thousands of these jobs exist on a
The district court’s order is affirmed.
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