Robert Free v. SSA
Per Curiam OPINION filed : The district court's judgment is AFFIRMED, decision not for publication. Damon J. Keith, Circuit Judge; Alice M. Batchelder, Circuit Judge and Jeffrey S. Sutton, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 17a0349n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,
Jun 20, 2017
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
BEFORE: KEITH, BATCHELDER, and SUTTON, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Robert Free appeals the district court’s judgment affirming the denial of
his application for disability insurance benefits.
In 2011, Free filed an application for disability insurance benefits, alleging that he
became disabled on July 31, 2003.
After the Social Security Administration denied the
application, Free requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ
conducted a hearing and denied Free relief. The Appeals Council declined to review the case.
The district court affirmed the denial of Free’s application.
On appeal, Free argues that the ALJ erred by concluding that he retained the ability to
perform a limited range of medium work, by relying on the testimony of a vocational expert, and
by failing to determine that he is disabled under Rule 202.01 of the Medical-Vocational
No. 16-6671, Free v. Soc. Sec. Admin.
Guidelines. “Our review of the ALJ’s decision is limited to whether the ALJ applied the correct
legal standards and whether the findings of the ALJ are supported by substantial evidence.”
Blakley v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th Cir. 2009). Substantial evidence exists if
a reasonable mind might accept the relevant evidence as adequate to support a conclusion. Id.
at 406. We review de novo the district court’s conclusions on each issue. Id.
Free first argues that the ALJ erred by concluding that he retained the ability to perform a
limited range of medium work in spite of his cardiac issues and problems with his back and
Substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s determination.
records from the relevant period show that Free consistently reported that he was doing well, his
examinations were unremarkable, the results of the diagnostic testing and imaging were largely
normal, and Free’s doctors noted that he responded well to treatment. In addition, the residual
functional capacity assigned by the ALJ was consistent with the medical opinion of reviewing
physician Dr. Lisa Beihn, who provided the only opinion concerning Free’s functional
Free next argues that the ALJ erred by relying on the testimony of a vocational expert,
who testified that, assuming that Free had the residual functional capacity that was ultimately
assigned to him by the ALJ, he could perform the jobs of packager and cleaner. Free contends
that the expert’s testimony that he could perform those jobs conflicted with the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (DOT), which states that the jobs require overhead reaching, exposure to
dust, fumes, odors, and gases, and more than occasional stooping, kneeling, and crawling.
As the government concedes, Free’s residual functional capacity would not allow him to
perform the cleaner job identified by the vocational expert because it requires frequent rather
than occasional stooping.
See Dictionary of Occupational Titles § 323.687-010, 1991
No. 16-6671, Free v. Soc. Sec. Admin.
WL 672782 (4th ed. rev. 1991). But nothing in the DOT’s definition of the packaging job
identified by the vocational expert precludes Free from performing it. The job does not require
exposure to dust, fumes, odors, and gases or more than occasional stooping, kneeling, and
crawling, and, although the job does require constant reaching, it does not explicitly require
See id. § 920.587-018, 1991 WL 687916.
And the ALJ reasonably
accounted for Free’s limited education and inability to reach overhead by accepting the
vocational expert’s decision to reduce the number of available packaging jobs by fifty percent.
See Ledford v. Astrue, 311 F. App’x 746, 757 (6th Cir. 2008) (per curiam). Because the
vocational expert identified over 400,000 packaging jobs nationwide that Free could perform,
substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s finding that Free is not disabled. See Poe v. Comm’r of
Soc. Sec., 342 F. App’x 149, 157-58 (6th Cir. 2009) (concluding that the ALJ’s erroneous
reliance on one of the jobs identified by a vocational expert was harmless because the expert
otherwise identified a significant number of jobs in the national economy that the claimant could
perform); see also Taskila v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 819 F.3d 902, 905 (6th Cir. 2016) (concluding
that 6,000 jobs nationwide is a significant number).
Finally, Free argues that the ALJ erred by failing to determine that he is disabled under
Rule 202.01 of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, which directs a finding of disabled for
unskilled persons of limited education or less who are limited to light work and are of advanced
age. See 20 C.F.R., Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 2, § 202.01. But no error occurred because that rule
applies only where a claimant is limited to light work, and the ALJ reasonably determined that
Free could perform medium work.
Accordingly, we AFFIRM the district court’s judgment.
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