Ison v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER ACCEPTING AND AFFIRMING the Report and Recommendation 13 OVERRULING Ison's objections [11, 14]; AFFIRMING the Commissioner's denial of benefits. This case is DISMISSED. Signed by Judge Algenon L. Marbley on 9/18/2017. (cw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
ACTING COMMISSIONER OF
Case No. 2:16-cv-00464
JUDGE ALGENON L. MARBLEY
Magistrate Judge Jolson
OPINION & ORDER
Plaintiff Sylvia Ison (“Ison”) brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)
for review of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security’s (“Commissioner”) decision denying
disability benefits and supplemental security income. This matter comes before the Court for
consideration of Ison’s Objection to Magistrate Judge Jolson’s March 24, 2017 Report and
Recommendation (Doc. 13), which recommends that this Court overrule Ison’s Statement of
Specific Errors (Doc. 11) and affirm the Defendant Commissioner’s decision. Upon independent
review by this Court, and for the reasons set forth below, Ison’s Objections are hereby
OVERRULED. The Court ACCEPTS and AFFIRMS the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Ison filed her application for disability insurance benefits on November 20, 2012, (Doc.
10 at 65), and filed her application for supplemental security income on November 26, 2012, (id.
at 77), alleging that she has been disabled since October 10, 2008. (Id. at 66, 78). After
administrative denials of both applications following initial filings, (id. at 65-76, 77-88), and
administrative denials following requests for reconsideration, (id. at 89-100, 101-112), an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) conducted a hearing on October 14, 2014. (Id. at 36.) On
May 15, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Ison was not disabled within the meaning
of the Social Security Act (“SSA”). (Id. at 16-35.)
In his opinion denying benefits, the ALJ conducted the required five-step sequential
analysis for a disability benefits claim. (Id.); See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4).1 As
an initial matter, the ALJ determined that Ison met the insured status requirements of the SSA
through December 31, 2012. (Doc. 10 at 21). At step one, the ALJ determined that Ison had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 10, 2008, the alleged onset date of her
The five sequential steps are as follows:
(i) At the first step, we consider your work activity, if any. If you are doing substantial
gainful activity, we will find that you are not disabled. . . .
(ii) At the second step, we consider the medical severity of your impairment(s). If you do
not have a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment that meets the
duration requirement in [§§ 404.1509, 416.909], or a combination of impairments that is
severe and meets the duration requirement, we will find that you are not disabled. . . .
(iii) At the third step, we also consider the medical severity of your impairment(s). If you
have an impairment(s) that meets or equals one of our listings in appendix 1 to subpart P
of part 404 of this chapter and meets the duration requirement, we will find that you are
disabled. . . .
(iv) At the fourth step, we consider our assessment of your residual functional capacity
and your past relevant work. If you can still do your past relevant work, we will find that
you are not disabled. . . .
(v) At the fifth and last step, we consider our assessment of your residual functional
capacity and your age, education, and work experience to see if you can make an
adjustment to other work. If you can make an adjustment to other work, we will find that
you are not disabled. If you cannot make an adjustment to other work, we will find that
you are disabled. . . .
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4).
At step two, the ALJ determined that the claimant had the severe impairments of chronic
headaches, chiari malformation, vertigo, fibromyalgia, ulcers, and unexplained weight loss. (Id.
at 21-22). The ALJ also concluded that Ison’s depression was a non-severe impairment. (Id. at
At step three, the ALJ determined that although Ison did have conditions that qualified as
severe impairments, such conditions did not meet or medically equal one of the listed
impairments under 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id.). The ALJ considered Ison’s
chiari malformation and headaches under the 11.00 listings and found that her conditions did not
meet or equal any listing. (Id. at 22). The ALJ considered Ison’s argument that her conditions
medically equaled listing 11.02, but the ALJ determined that her assertion lacked any supporting
medical evidence from a treating physician or another medical expert. (Id.). The ALJ found that
Ison’s conditions did not meet or equal listing 2.07 because the record did not substantiate a
claim of hearing loss. (Id.). The ALJ considered Ison’s ulcers and weight loss conditions, but
concluded that the record did not support a finding that her conditions met or equaled any of the
5.00 digestive system listings. (Id. at 22-23). The ALJ determined that Ison’s fibromyalgia by
definition did not meet any listing, and that the condition did not equal a 14.09 listing. (Id.).
At step four, the ALJ determined that Ison had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to perform light work, and that she could lift and carry, push and pull, twenty pounds
occasionally and ten pounds frequently. (Id. at 23-27). The ALJ also determined that Ison could
sit for six hours and stand and/or walk for six hours for a total of eight hours in a workday. (Id.).
The ALJ found that Ison cannot climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, and that she cannot work
around workplace hazards such as dangerous machinery. (Id.). The ALJ reviewed the evidence
and determined that “the claimant’s medically determinable impairments could reasonably be
expected to cause the alleged symptoms,” but that she was not entirely credible after reviewing
the subjective and objective medical record. (Id. at 24-27). The ALJ found that Ison is more than
minimally limited due to neurological impairments but is not disabled, and that the medical
records indicate that Ison is “neurologically normal” despite her reported symptoms of headaches
and vertigo. (Id. at 24-25). The ALJ relied on a review of the record to find that neither Ison’s
abdominal problems nor her fibromyalgia are disabling. (Id. at 25-26). Using the vocation expert
(“VE”) testimony, the ALJ found that with this RFC, Ison could perform past relevant work. (Id.
At step five, the ALJ considered Ison’s age, education, work experience, and RFC to
determine that she is capable of making a successful adjustment to and perform other jobs
existing in the national economy. (Id. at 28-29). The ALJ determined that Ison had some
limitations on performing some jobs with an unskilled light occupational base, but she would be
able to perform the jobs of housekeeping or cleaning, folding, or ticket selling. (Id. at 29).
Ison timely appealed the decision. (Id. at 13). On April 8, 2016, the Appeals Council
adopted the ALJ’s decision as the Commissioner’s final decision and denied Plaintiff’s Request
for Review. (Id. at 5-9). The Council also ordered that Ison’s administrative record be updated to
include the brief filed by her representative in support of the request to reverse the unfavorable
decision by the ALJ. (Id. at 8-9).
Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court, alleging three errors in her Statement of Errors.
(Doc. 11). In her first assignment of error, Ison alleged that the ALJ erred in determining that the
claimant’s impairments did not meet or equal the previously argued 2.07 and 5.08 listings, and
raised the additional argument that her headaches equaled listing 11.03. (Id. at 5-6). In her
second assignment of error, Ison alleged that the ALJ failed to consider the functional impact of
plaintiff’s severe headaches for the RFC assessment. (Id. at 8-9). In her third assignment of error,
she alleged that the ALJ erred by determining that the claimant was not entirely credible. (Id. at
On March 24, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation,
recommending that this Court overrule Ison’s objections. (Doc. 13 at 14). Ison timely objected to
the Magistrate Judge’s ruling, again raising her original objections and further specifying three
errors. (Doc. 14 at 2). First, Ison alleged that the ALJ failed to account for the functional impact
of her headaches and argued that there was evidence within the record to support a finding that
her condition precluded employment. (Id. at 2-3). Second, Ison argued that the ALJ incorrectly
relied on the absence of objective medical evidence of migraines to support the administrative
decision. (Id. at 3-4). Third, Ison argued that the ALJ improperly weighed the opinions of the
state agency medical examiners’ opinions when rendering decisions on the listings and RFC
assessment. (Id.). The relevant facts concerning Ison’s subjective and medical evidence, RFC
assessment, and credibility determinations are thoroughly set forth in the Magistrate Judge’s
Report and Recommendation. Facts that are relevant to this Court’s decision will be incorporated
into the analysis below.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Upon objection to a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, this Court must
“make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).
This Court “must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it ‘is supported by substantial evidence
and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.’” Rabbers v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 582 F.3d
647, 651 (quoting Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007)); see also,
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (“The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if
supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive”). Substantial evidence means relevant
evidence that “a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Ealy v.
Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 594 F.3d 504, 512 (6th Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted). Substantial evidence
constitutes “more than a mere scintilla, but only so much as would be required to prevent
judgment as a matter of law against the Commissioner if this case were being tried to a jury.”
Inman v. Astrue, 920 F. Supp. 2d 861, 863 (S.D. Ohio), citing Foster v. Bowen, 853 F.2d 483,
486 (6th Cir. 1988). The findings of the Commissioner are not subject to reversal merely because
there exists in the record substantial evidence to support a different conclusion. Buxton v. Halter,
246 F.3d 762, 772 (6th Cir. 2001).
In determining whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence, the court must consider the record as a whole. Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 388
(6th Cir. 1984), citing Allen v. Califano, 613 F.2d 139, 145 (6th. Cir. 1980). The Court may
review any evidence in the record to determine if the ALJ’s decision is based on substantial
evidence, regardless of whether it has been cited by the ALJ. Heston v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 245
F.3d 528, 535 (6th Cir. 2001). When reviewing an ALJ decision for substantial evidence, the
legal standard “presupposes that there is a zone of choice within which the decisionmakers can
go either way, without interference by the courts.” Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir.
1986). Therefore, if the Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial evidence, it must be
affirmed even if this Court would decide the matter differently, Kinsella v. Schweiker, 708 F.2d
1058, 1059 (6th Cir.1983), and even if substantial evidence also supports the opposite
conclusion. Longworth v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005).
In her objections to the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation, Ison reasserts
the same arguments from her Statement of Errors and submits three additional objections. (Doc.
14 at 2). Ison requests that this Court reject the Report and Recommendation submitted by the
Magistrate Judge and reverse and remand the Commissioner’s decision. (Id. at 5).
A. Step Three Listings Analysis
In the third step of the analysis to determine a claimant’s entitlement to disability
benefits, it is the claimant’s burden to bring forth evidence to establish that her impairments meet
or are medically equivalent to a listed impairment. Evans v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs.,
820 F.2d 161, 164 (6th Cir.1987). In order to meet a listed impairment, the claimant must show
that her impairment meets all of the criteria for that listing. Hale v. Sec’y of Health and Human
Servs., 816 F.2d 1078, 1083 (6th Cir.1987); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1525(c)(3), 416.925(c)(3). If her
conditions do not meet a listing, a claimant may prove that they medically equal the criteria of a
listing. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1525(c)(5), 416.925(c)(5). An impairment or combination of
impairments is considered medically equivalent to a listed impairment “if the symptoms, signs
and laboratory findings as shown in medical evidence are at least equal in severity and duration
to the listed impairments.” Land v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 814 F.2d 241, 245 (6th
Cir.1986) (per curiam); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1526(b), 416.926(b); see Sullivan v. Zebley, 493 U.S.
521, 531 (1990) (“A claimant cannot qualify for benefits under the ‘equivalence’ step by
showing that the overall functional impact of [his] unlisted impairment or combination of
impairments is as severe as that of a listed impairment.”) (emphasis added).
The Commissioner’s decision will not be upheld where the Social Security
Administration “fails to follow its own regulations and where that error prejudices a claimant on
the merits or deprives the claimant of a substantial right.” Bowen v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 478
F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2007). At step three, the “ALJ need[s] to actually evaluate the evidence,
compare it to [a Listing], and give an explained conclusion, in order to facilitate meaningful
judicial review.” Reynolds v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 424 Fed. App’x 411, 416; see Shepard v.
Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 3:14-cv-25, 2015 WL 4554290, at *4 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 24, 2015)
(finding that the ALJ only made conclusory statements in his step three analysis that did not
facilitate meaningful review allowing the District Court to determine whether the ALJ based
their decision on substantial evidence).
i. Listing 11.02 and Sufficiency of Analysis
At the administrative hearing, Ison argued that her headaches and associated symptoms
medically equaled listing 11.02. (Doc. 10 at 40-42). The ALJ concluded that the claimant did not
have an “impairment or combination of impairments” that medically equaled listing 11.02,2 and
conducted the following analysis regarding her migraine condition:
The claimant’s impairments, while severe, do not meet or equal a listing. In
reaching this conclusion, the undersigned considered the claimant’s chiari
malformation and headaches under the 11.00 listings, but the claimant’s condition
does not seem to meet or equal any listing. The undersigned noted that the
claimant’s doctors considered syringomyelia. However, an MRI of the claimant’s
cervical spine revealed no evidence of cord signal abnormality to suggest a syrinx
(Exhibit 16F/5). The claimant’s representative argued the claimant’s headaches
equal listing 11.02, but his opinion is not supported by one of the claimant’s
As noted in defendant’s brief (Doc. 12 at 3 n. 2), Listing 11.03 was merged with Listing 11.02 with an
effective date of September 29, 2016. 81 FR 43048-01, 2016 WL 3551949. Prior to those changes,
Listings 11.02 and 11.03, each with distinct criteria as provided infra, were effective at all times during
the period at issue in this case, and so this Court will evaluate according to their individuated forms. Id.,
at 43051 n. 6.
treating sources or another medical expert. The undersigned considered the
claimant’s headaches, but do not find that they equal a listing for seizures that
requires nocturnal episodes with residual symptoms that interfere significantly
with activity during the day or daytime episodes in which the claimant loses
(Doc. 10 at 22.) The ALJ specifically addressed the conditions and the listing raised by Ison at
the administrative hearing and thus did not “skip an entire step of the necessary analysis.”
Reynolds, 424 Fed. App’x at 416 (finding that the ALJ failed to show their step three analysis
was supported by substantial evidence where the ALJ made a conclusory statement as to a
physical condition but failed to analyze or address that condition in their explanation); see
Capizzi v. Colvin, No. 2:14-cv-1063, 2015 WL 5117698, at *4-5 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 1, 2015)
(where the claimant argued for a specific listing from the outset, the ALJ failed to conduct a
proper step three analysis when the ALJ did not discuss that listing). However, the ALJ only
restated the requirements for listing 11.02 and supported his determination by stating that the
claimant lacked medical evidence. C.f. Forrest v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 591 Fed. App’x 359, 364
(6th Cir. 2014) (reviewing sufficiency of step three analysis where the ALJ stated that the record
lacked evidence to support a finding for a listed impairment). Given that Ison pointed to evidence
during her administrative hearing, (Doc. 10 at 40-41), and argued that her condition and
“associated phenomena” medically equaled the listing (Doc. 11 at 5), this Court will consider the
ALJ’s step three analysis under the substantial evidence standard.
Although the plaintiff did not raise this specific objection, this Court has the prerogative
to consider such arguments. See Reynolds, 424 Fed. App’x at 416, citing Dorris v. Absher, 179
F.3d 420, 425 (6th Cir. 1999); see also Gwin v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 109 Fed. App’x 102, 105
(6th Cir. 2004) (reviewing a specific argument regarding the ALJ’s decision despite it not being
raised in objections to the Magistrate Judge’s report).
The Sixth Circuit does not require remand where an ALJ “provides minimal reasoning at
step three of the five-step inquiry.” Forrest, 591 Fed. App’x at 365. Instead, this Court may
review the entire administrative decision to determine whether the ALJ made sufficient factual
findings to support his conclusion. See Bledsoe v. Barnhart, 165 Fed. App’x 408, 411 (6th Cir.
2006) (finding that the language of 20 C.F.R. § 404.1526 does not require an ALJ to articulate a
lengthy review of medical equivalency, and that, because he reviewed all evidence of
impairments prior to step three, the ALJ was not required to “spell out every fact” when stating
that the combination of impairments was considered); see also Wischer v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
No. 1:13-cv-810, 2015 WL 518658, at *12-13 (S.D. Ohio Feb. 6, 2015) (finding no error in the
step three analysis where the ALJ extensively analyzed the medical evidence and the plaintiff did
not cite to any authority requiring further analysis); Kerns v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No 2:16-cv57, 2017 WL 1324609, at *2-3 (S.D. Ohio April 11, 2017) (finding that the ALJ supported its
step three determination in their review of the medical evidence, extensive analysis conducted
during the RFC assessment, and credibility determination).
At the administrative hearing, Ison stated that the record contained evidence of severe
migraines and posited that “given the frequency and severity of headache problem,” her
conditions medically equaled Listing 11.02. (Doc. 10 at 41-42). Listing 11.02 describes epilepsy
“documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all associated
phenomena” as well as “daytime episodes (loss of consciousness and convulsive seizures)” or
“nocturnal episodes manifesting residuals which interfere significantly with activity during the
day.” 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1 (amended Sept. 29, 2016). The listings for epilepsy
also require “at least one detailed description of a typical seizure” that “includes the presence or
absence of aura, tongue bites, sphincter control, injuries associated with the attack, and postictal
phenomena.” Id. The criteria for Listing 11.02 and 11.03 can be applied only if the “impairment
persists despite the fact that the individual is following prescribed antiepileptic treatment.” Id.
The ALJ extensively reviewed the evidence regarding Ison’s headaches, which contained
no medical opinion finding evidence of epilepsy. (Doc. 10 at 24-25, 26-27). The ALJ also found
the state agency medical examiners’ opinions were “consistent with the record” when concluding
that Ison was capable of light exertional work with some limitations. (Id. at 27). The ALJ noted
that Ison’s treating physicians made a diagnosis for a chiari malformation, but the results of the
neurological tests were “mostly unremarkable” or “mostly normal.” (Id.). See (Id. at 352)
(“[I]ncidental borderline chiari with normal flow unlikely contributing to headaches”); (Id. at
363) (opining that Ison’s neurologic exam did not show neurological abnormalities, that Ison’s
chronic migraine without aura was unlikely to be caused by the chiari malformation, and
prescribing nerve blocks for treatment); (Id. at 403) (opining that the patient exhibited a
“rightward beating nystagmus during upward gaze without fixation,” but that the results of the
MRIs of Ison’s brain as well as cervical and thoracic spine were normal); (Id. at 520) (noting that
Ison was positive for headaches but negative for the following neurological symptoms: tingling,
tremors, sensory change, speech change, focal weakness, [and] seizures”); (Id. at 554) (under
neurological systems, noting a lack of dizziness, tremors, speech change, seizures, but describing
complaints of headaches).
Even if the ALJ failed to support its step three findings, such error is harmless where a
claimant fails to show that her “impairments met or medically equaled in severity any [listing].”
Forrest, 591 Fed. App’x at 366, citing Reynolds, 424 Fed. App’x at 411; see King v. Heckler,
742 F.2d 968, 973-74 (6th Cir.1984) (determining that the lack of evidence in support of the
claimant’s conditions met the criteria for a listing substantially supported the Secretary’s
decision that claimant did not meet the listing); Adams v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 3:14-cv-286,
2016 WL 1732930, at *4 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 7, 2016) (where plaintiff pointed to evidence showing
abnormalities but failed to demonstrate that the such evidence or the record met or medically
equaled a listing); see also White v Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 2:13-cv-934, 2015 WL 1197818, at
*16-17 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 16, 2015) (finding that the ALJ’s decision was supported by substantial
evidence where no medical expert opined that claimant met the requirements for Listing 11.03,
and provided no additional evidence to show her conditions equaled in severity Listing 11.03).
The record lacks any medical opinion that shows that Ison medically equaled in severity
listing 11.02, or that her conditions and symptoms met its criteria. See Id.; Wischer, 2015 WL
518658, at *12 (finding that the plaintiff failed to show her conditions met all criteria for a listing
where the record lacked supporting medical evidence). Ison also did not submit any additional
evidence to show her headaches medically equaled in severity Listing 11.02. Without objective
medical evidence to support a finding for such criteria, this Court finds any failure to by the ALJ
at their step three analysis to be harmless error.
ii. Issues Raised by Ison Regarding the ALJ’s Step Three Analysis
Ison has also raised several issues with the ALJ’s step three analysis. First, she asserts
that the ALJ erred in not finding her conditions medically equaled listings 11.03, 2.07, and 5.08.
(Doc. 11 at 4-7). Second, she states that the ALJ used his lay opinion because he relied on the
opinions of the state agency medical consultants who did not consider Listings 11.03 or 2.07, and
the record does not include any other medical opinion that considers whether the conditions
equal Listing 11.03 or 2.07. (Id. at 5-6). Ison further argued that the ALJ or Appeals Council had
an obligation under SSR 96-6p3 to obtain additional medical evidence for Listings 11.03, 2.07,
and 5.08. (Id. at 6-8).
iii. Ison’s Objections to the Step Three Analysis
(a.) Listing 11.03
In her first assignment of error, Ison raised the issue of Listing 11.03 and argued that
claimant’s conditions medically equaled 11.03. (Doc. 11, at 6; Doc. 14 at 5). Listing 11.03 is
described as follows:
11.03 Epilepsy—nonconvulsive epilepsy (petit mal, psychomotor, or focal),
documented by detailed description of a typical seizure pattern, including all
associated phenomena; occurring more frequently than once weekly in spite of at
least 3 months of prescribed treatment. With alteration of awareness or loss of
consciousness and transient postictal manifestations of unconventional behavior
or significant interference with activity during the day.
20 C.F.R., Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1, § 11.03 (amended Sept. 29, 2016).
The Sixth Circuit does not require that an ALJ “address every listing” or “discuss listings
that the applicant clearly does not meet.” Smith-Johnson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 579 F. App’x
426, 432 (6th Cir. 2014), quoting Sheeks v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 544 Fed. App’x 639, 641 (6th
Cir. 2013). An ALJ should analyze a relevant listing where the record “raise[s] a substantial
question as to whether [the claimant] could qualify as disabled.” Abbott v. Sullivan, 905 F.2d
918, 925 (6th Cir. 1990) (finding that the Appeals Council failed to properly analyze a listing
where conclusive evidence showed the claimant satisfied that listing, which raised a “substantial
question” as to whether the claimant qualified as disabled); c.f. Sheeks, 544 Fed. App’x at 642
(finding plaintiff did not raise a substantial question as to satisfying the listing for an intellectual
Though not statutes or regulations, Social Security Rulings “are binding on all components of the Social
Security Administration” and “represent precedent final opinions and orders and statements of policy.” 20
C.F.R. § 402.35(b).
disability where the ALJ’s decision did not preclude a finding for the listing, but the plaintiff
failed to do more than point to inconclusive evidence that did not prove an essential element of
Where the ALJ decision does not discuss a listing subsequently raised in objection, the
court “must determine whether the record evidence raises a substantial question as to [the
claimant’s] ability to satisfy each requirement of the listing.” Smith-Johnson, 579 Fed. App’x at
433. In order to raise a substantial question, a claimant “must do more than point to evidence on
which the ALJ could have based his finding.” Id. at 432. The claimant must fulfill her burden of
presenting “medical findings equal in severity to all the criteria for the one most similar listed
impairment.” Foster v. Halter, 279 F.3d 348, 355 (6th Cir. 2001), quoting Zebley, 493 U.S. at
531 (emphasis in original); see Malone v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 507 Fed. Appx. 470, 472 (6th
Cir. 2012) (finding that the ALJ’s decision was supported by substantial evidence where the ALJ
reviewed the plaintiff’s conditions relevant to the listing and the plaintiff failed to point to
medical evidence that would have medically equaled the listing). This Court should not disturb
the ALJ’s findings “unless . . . persuaded that his findings are legally insufficient.” Dorton v.
Heckler, 789 F.2d 363, 367 (6th Cir.1986); see Reynolds, 424 Fed. App’x. at 415-16 (remanding
for failure to conduct a proper analysis at step three because the ALJ completely ignored the
physical impairment and focused solely on the plaintiff’s mental impairment).
Ison raised the issue of Listing 11.03 on appeal to this Court without producing additional
evidence in support of that argument. In her complaint, Ison pointed to evidence in the record,
but such evidence does not include any objective medical evidence that indicated her conditions
medically equaled Listing 11.03. See Smith-Johnson, 579 Fed. App’x at 434-35 (affirming the
ALJ’s decision where the evaluating medical professionals’ opinions did not find or conclusively
determine that the plaintiff met the criteria for a listing, and therefore the plaintiff failed to show
that the record evidence raised a substantial question). Much of the evidence to which claimant
has cited contains subjective reports by Ison with inconclusive findings related to medical
equivalence for Listing 11.03. See Stiltner v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 244 Fed. App’x 685, 689 (6th
Cir. 2007) (finding that the ALJ thoroughly considered a treating source’s opinion before not
according it controlling weight because it was based on subjective reports from claimant whose
testimony was considered only partially credible). For finding medical equivalence, an ALJ will
consider whether the “symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings are at least equal in severity to
the listed criteria”, but “will not substitute [claimant’s] allegations of pain or other symptoms for
a missing or deficient sign or laboratory finding to raise the severity of [claimant’s]
impairment(s) to that of a listed impairment.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(d)(3), 416.929(d)(3); see
Zebley, 493 U.S. at 532 (describing how the regulations require a higher standard for meeting a
listing impairment because it creates a “presumption of disability that makes further inquiry
unnecessary.”). The ALJ found Ison’s conditions to be severe impairments at step two, (doc. 10
at 22), and considered her testimony partially credible compared to the objective medical
evidence, (id. at 24), but the ALJ had substantial evidence to conclude that she did not meet the
criteria for Listing 11.03.
Ison also contends that the ALJ used his lay opinion when relying on the state medical
consultant’s findings because no medical opinion considered Listing 11.03. (Doc. 11 at 6).
In general, a medical expert’s opinion “is required before a determination of medical
equivalence is made.” Retka v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 94-2013, 1995 WL 697215, at *2 (6th
Cir. 1995). The Sixth Circuit considers the signature of a state agency physician on a disability
determination to be probative evidence that medical equivalence was considered. Hicks v.
Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 105 Fed. App’x 757, 762 (6th Cir. 2004), quoting SSR 96-6p, 1996 WL
374180 (July 2, 1996) (“The signature of a State agency medical or psychological consultant . . .
ensures that consideration by a physician (or psychologist) designated by the Commissioner has
been given to the question of medical equivalence at the initial and reconsideration levels of
administrative review.”). The burden of compiling a complete record, “defined as evidence
complete and detailed enough to enable the Secretary to make a disability determination, rests
with the claimant.” Landsaw v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 803 F.2d 211, 214 (6th
Cir.1986); see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(a), 416.912(a).
Ison has not directed this Court to any opinion which equates her impairment to listing
11.03, nor has the Court’s review of the record shown any such opinion exists. However, the
state agency medical examiner’s assessments provide substantial evidence that medical
equivalence was considered but not found for Ison’s conditions. (Doc. 10 at 66-112); See Hicks,
105 Fed. App’x at 762 (finding that the Commissioner had substantial evidence to determine
medical equivalence where no medical opinion expressly considered listings 11.02 or 11.03, but
the ALJ relied on the professional medical input from the state agency medical examiners); see
also Jones v. Astrue, No. 3:08cv00224, 2009 WL 2827942, at *12-13 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 1, 2009)
(finding that the ALJ properly relied on the medical opinions from the state agency medical
examiners when determining medical equivalence, and that the plaintiff failed to point to or
provide evidence that her conditions medically equaled the listings).
As stated previously, this Court’s “inquiry is limited to a determination of whether
substantial evidence exists in the record to support the Secretary’s decision and to a review for
any legal errors.” Landsaw, 803 F.2d at 213 (internal citations omitted). The ALJ properly relied
on the state agency medical consultants’ opinions for making his determination on whether
Ison’s conditions medically equaled listing 11.03.
(b.) Listing 2.07
Ison argued that her conditions medically equaled the criteria for Listing 2.07, that the
ALJ “disregarded” that listing because she did not meet every element of the Listing, and that the
ALJ was obligated to obtain an updated medical opinion. (Doc. 11 at 6-7).
The ALJ properly concluded that Ison did not meet the requirements of Listing 2.07
because she did not have “hearing loss established by audiometry.” 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpt. P,
App. 1 § 2.07(B). To establish hearing loss, a claimant is required to show “audiometric
measurements of the severity of [their] hearing loss” through an “otologic examination and
audiometric testing.” Id.
Based on the analysis conducted under Listing 11.03 supra, this Court does not find the
ALJ erred in their determination.
(c.) Listing 5.08
Ison similarly argued that her conditions met or medically equaled Listing 5.08, and that
the ALJ made that determination “based on a suggestion that the plaintiff’s poor nutrition was
the cause of her low weight.” (Doc. 11 at 7).
As the Magistrate Judge noted in her opinion, the ALJ’s analysis “was more thoughtful”
than merely relying on a suggestion by claimant’s treating physician. (Doc. 13 at 9). The ALJ
noted that the claimant’s “colonoscopy and upper endoscopy were unremarkable,” and, though
he considered Ison’s low BMI, the record showed that the claimant’s medical providers did not
express concern for her weight. (Doc. 10 at 22-23, 26). The ALJ also properly relied on the state
agency medical examiners opinions which expressly considered Listing 5.08. (Id. at 27, relying
on Id. at 71, 83, 95, 107).
Based on the analysis conducted under Listing 11.03 supra, this Court does not find the
ALJ erred in its determination.
B. The ALJ Had No Obligation to Obtain Updated Medical Opinions Under SSR 96-6p
Ison also contends that the ALJ erred in failing to obtain further information from
medical experts to determine whether her conditions met or medically equaled the listings. (Doc.
11 at 6-7). Ison argues that SSR 96-6p obligated the ALJ to seek further medical expertise to
update the record and assist in finding medical equivalence. (Id.).
The Magistrate Judge has correctly stated the circumstances under which an ALJ must
call on a medical expert to give an updated medical opinion. SSR 96-6p requires the ALJ to
obtain an updated medical opinion:
When no additional medical evidence is received, but in the opinion of the
administrative law judge or the Appeals Council the symptoms, signs, and
laboratory findings reported in the case record suggest that a judgment of
equivalence may be reasonable; or
When additional medical evidence is received that in the opinion of the
administrative law judge or the Appeals Council may change the State agency
medical or psychological consultant’s finding that the impairment(s) is not
equivalent in severity to any impairment in the Listing of Impairments.
SSR 96-6p, 1996 WL 374180, at *4. Thus, the ALJ has discretion when determining whether
further evidence is required. See Landsaw, 803 F.2d at 214, citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.917(a)
(“[T]he regulations do not require an ALJ to refer a claimant to a consultative specialist, but
simply grant him the authority to do so if the existing medical sources do not contain sufficient
evidence to make a determination.”); Courter v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 10-6119, 2012 WL
1592750, at *9 (6th Cir. May 7, 2012) (stating that claimant must first demonstrate that the
record suggests the conditions medically equal a listing or that the record may change the state
agency medical experts’ findings); see also Kelly v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 07-5897, 2009 WL
233266, at *5 (6th Cir. Feb. 2, 2009) (agreeing with the Magistrate Judge’s opinion that unless
the new evidence clearly renders prior medical opinions “untenable,” a gap between the state
agency assessment and the administrative hearing does not warrant remand); Mills v. Comm’r of
Soc. Sec., No. 1:11-cv-321, 2012 WL 1715042, at *10 (S.D. Ohio May 15, 2012) (finding that
ALJ was not required to obtain an updated opinion when the state agency medical consultants
did not review a subsequent medical opinion from a treating source because the newer opinion
did not include evidence that would indicate that the plaintiff’s conditions worsened); 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1512(a), 416.912(a).
Ison’s contention that the ALJ erred in failing to develop the record is unavailing. The
ALJ properly reviewed the record, which included considering the medical opinions by Ison’s
treating physicians conducted after the state agency medical consultants’ examinations, and
concluded that there was substantial evidence to render a decision. (Doc. 11 at 22-23, 27); see
Landsaw, 803 F.2d at 214, citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.1444 (finding that a “fully inquiry” did not
require further evidence where the record was sufficient to support a conclusion of no disability).
The ALJ was not required to obtain further medical records where state agency medical
examiners did not review a specific listing subsequently raised at the administrative hearing or to
this Court. See Brown v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 911 F.3d 731, No. 89-4000, 1990 WL
121472, at *5 (6th Cir. Aug. 22, 1990) (“A report is not necessarily incomplete simply because it
does not provide the evidence sought by a claimant. Mere silence as to a medical condition has
been insufficient for courts to find that the Secretary has abused his discretion in not ordering a
consultative examination.”); Lewis v. Astrue, No. 3:07CV145, 2008 WL 4186325, at *10 (S.D.
Ohio Sept. 2, 2008) (concluding that the ALJ had broad discretion to develop the record, and that
the plaintiff had the burden of pointing to evidence that would alter the determinations of
medical equivalence by the state agency medical examiners). The ALJ did not err in declining to
seek further medical expertise.
C. Credibility Determination
In her statement of errors, Ison contends that the ALJ erred in finding her testimony only
partially credible because the ALJ failed to consider the entire case record. (Doc. 11 at 9). Ison
again raises the issue of credibility by restating her objection to the ALJ’s “[error in] relying on
the lack of objective evidence of Plaintiff’s migraines to assess the severity and frequency of
headaches.” (Doc. 14 at 4).
When making a disability determination “an ALJ is not required to accept a claimant’s
subjective complaints and may properly consider the credibility of a claimant when making a
determination of disability.” Jones v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 475-76 (6th Cir. 2003)
(citations omitted); see Buxton, 246 F.3d at 773, quoting 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5)(A) (“Subjective
complaints of ‘pain or other symptoms shall not alone be conclusive evidence of disability.’”).
Such findings are afforded “great weight and deference, particularly since an ALJ is charged
with the duty of observing a witness’s demeanor and credibility.” Walters v. Comm’r of Soc.
Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir. 1997), citing Villarreal v. Sec’y of Health and Human Servs.,
818 F.2d 461, 463 (6th Cir. 1987). An ALJ is required to support credibility assessments with
substantial evidence. See McClain v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 1:14-cv-159, 2014 WL 5765518,
at *8-9 (S.D. Ohio No. 5, 2014), citing Walters, 127 F.3d at 531 (the ALJ had substantial
evidence to make their credibility determination based on their review of the objective evidence,
the ALJ’s thoughtful comparison of that evidence to the plaintiff’s testimony and daily activities,
which together undermined the allegations of disabling pain). Testimony that conflicts with the
objective medical evidence may serve to undercut a claimant’s credibility. See Blacha v. Sec’y of
Health and Human Servs., 927 F.3d 228, 230-31 (6th Cir. 1990) (deferring to the ALJ’s
credibility determination in part due to a lack of objective medical evidence supporting
claimant’s subjective complaints); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(c)(2), 416.929(c)(2) (“Objective
medical evidence . . . is a useful indicator to assist us in making reasonable conclusions about the
intensity and persistence of [claimant’s] symptoms and the effect those symptoms . . . may have
on your ability to work.”).
Ison relies on Blevins-Bryant v. Colvin to support her contention. (Doc. 14 at 4), citing
2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96247, at *11 (S.D. Ohio July 23, 2015). However, the ALJ in that case
misstated the record evidence, made few findings regarding the plaintiff’s migraines, and
ultimately relied on the lack of objective medical evidence to dismiss the claimant’s complaints.
Id., at *10-11. As the Magistrate Judge notes in the case at hand, the ALJ supported his
credibility determination by finding inconsistencies between Ison’s testimony and the objective
medical record. (Doc. 13 at 12-13, citing Doc. 10 at 25, 27). The ALJ also extensively reviewed
the medical opinions of the state agency medical examiners and treating physicians which did
not contain evidence that the plaintiff was in acute distress such that her headaches would be
disabling. Id. Finally, the ALJ properly considered the plaintiff’s daily activities when making
his credibility determination. The ALJ had substantial evidence to conclude Ison lacked
credibility based on his analysis of the record and objective medical evidence which supported
that conclusion. See Descott v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 1:16CV1271, 2017 WL
1050379, at *9 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 20, 2017) (finding the ALJ had substantial evidence when
finding the plaintiff less than credible based on the lack of evidence to support the complaints of
debilitating pain from migraines, conflicting reports between testimony and objective medical
evidence and plaintiff’s daily activities, and failure to comply with her doctor’s
D. RFC Assessment
Ison raises the objection that the Magistrate Judge erred in affirming the ALJ’s RFC
determination because the ALJ failed to properly account for the functional impact of Ison’s
headache condition. (Doc. 14 at 2-3).
An RFC is defined as “the most [a claimant] can do despite [their] limitations” based on
the record evidence. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a), 416.945(a); see Ealy, 594 F.3d at 513-14 (finding
that the ALJ properly supported its RFC determination with substantial evidence because the
ALJ reviewed the entire case record and made work limitation recommendations based on the
available objective medical evidence). The Social Security Act requires an ALJ to make the
ultimate determination on a claimant’s RFC. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5)(B); 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1546(c), 416.946(c). In its analysis, an ALJ “is charged with the responsibility of evaluating
the medical evidence and the claimant’s testimony to form an assessment” of a claimant’s RFC.
Webb v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 368 F.3d 629, 633 (6th Cir. 2004). An ALJ “does not improperly
assume the role of a medical expert” when reviewing and weighing the medical and non-medical
evidence prior to issuing a decision. Poe v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 08-5912, 2009 WL
2514058, at *7 (6th Cir. Aug. 18, 2009).
Ison argues that the Magistrate Judge improperly affirmed the ALJ’s RFC determination
because “[the Judge] does not address the fact that the ALJ did not address any functional
limitations due to [Ison’s] headaches, despite inconsistently finding it to be a severe
impairment.” (Doc. 14 at 3). However, the regulations provide a sequential framework for an
ALJ to determine whether a claimant is “unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by
reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment . . . .” 42 U.S.C.
§ 423(d)(1)(A). Provided an ALJ adheres to the correct regulatory framework, a claimant that
has a severe impairment at step two is not immediately entitled to a finding of a disability. See
Byrd v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 1:12-cv-455-HJW, 2013 WL 5389219, at * (S.D. Ohio Sept.
25, 2013) (stating that the plaintiff “[misunderstood] that the threshold finding of a ‘severe’
impairment at step two of the analysis does not by itself entitle her to federal disability
benefits.”); see also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a) (defining disability and giving a
general overview of the sequential steps); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4) (providing
the sequential evaluation process).
The Magistrate Judge properly reviewed the administrative decision and determined that
the ALJ had incorporated Ison’s severe impairment of chronic headaches in his RFC assessment.
(Doc. 13 at 10-11). The ALJ extensively reviewed Ison’s record and specifically addressed her
headache condition throughout the administrative decision, which included an analysis of Ison’s
testimony and the record objective medical evidence consisting of Ison’s history and the
treatment notes of examining physicians. (Id. at 24-25, 27). When assessing her RFC, the ALJ
also relied on the state agency medical examiners’ reports, which considered Ison’s headache
condition. (Id. at 27). See Coldiron v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 09-4071, 2010 WL 3199693, at
*7-8 (6th Cir. Aug. 12, 2010) (finding that the ALJ did not ignore the functional impact of
plaintiff’s condition because the ALJ analyzed the condition throughout the decision and used
RFCs from physicians who explicitly considered that condition); Wright v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
2917 WL 3224664, at *5 (S.D. Ohio July 31, 2017) (finding substantial evidence supported the
ALJ’s RFC assessment because the ALJ reviewed the record and explained its consideration of
the condition, which did not contain any opinion that the plaintiff’s headaches were disabling or
limiting). Based on the foregoing, the ALJ did not fail to incorporate Ison’s headache condition
into his RFC assessment.
Ison also contends that the ALJ improperly weighed the opinions of the state agency
medical examiners when making his RFC assessment. (Doc. 14 at 4). Specifically, Ison argued
that the state medical examiners opinions were based on an incomplete record, and thus the ALJ
erred by placing “too much weight” on the opinions. (Id.).
Under 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(c), 416.927(c), an ALJ must “evaluate every medical
opinion” and must “always give good reasons . . . for the weight we give your treating source’s
medical opinion.” See Wilson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004). The
regulations provide “progressively more rigorous tests for weighing opinions as the ties between
the source of the opinion and the individual become weaker.” SSR 96-6p, 1996 WL 374180
(July 2, 1996). In general, an ALJ must give more weight to opinions from treating sources, and
must give such opinions controlling weight if the ALJ determines that the opinions are “wellsupported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques” and “not
inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in [the] case record. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1527(c)(2), 416.927(c)(2). An ALJ is required to give “good reasons” for a decision
regarding the weight given a claimant’s treating source opinion. Id. The good reasons must be
“supported by the evidence in the case record, and must be sufficiently specific to make clear to
any subsequent reviewers the weight the adjudicator gave to the treating source’s medical
opinion and the reasons for that weight.” SSR 96-2p, 1996 WL 374188 (July 2, 1996).
Ison contends that Blakely v. Commissioner of Social Security, 581 F.3d 399, at 409 (6th
Cir. 2009) stands for the proposition that an ALJ cannot give “greater weight” to a state agency
medical consultant who has not reviewed the whole record. (Doc. 14 at 4-5).
distinguishable, however, because there the Court, remanded for failure to adhere to Social
Security regulations because the ALJ rejected or ignored the opinions of the plaintiff’s treating
sources without providing good reasons. Id. at 407-09, citing SSR 96-2p, 1996 WL 374188 (July
2, 1996) (stating that “any opinions [a treating source] made should have been given controlling
weight absent justifiable reasons-made on the record- for discounting those opinions,” and
finding error where the ALJ ignored or rejected objective medical evidence from treating
sources). The Court also determined that the ALJ’s procedural errors were not de minimis in that
the ALJ’s explanation precluded meaningful review, failed to properly weigh the evidence, and
the treating sources were credible based on the objective medical evidence supporting their
opinions. Id. at 409-410.
The ALJ did not discount the opinions of Ison’s treating sources, and in fact gave them
controlling weight. The ALJ found Dr. Prevedello and Dr. Hussein to be treating sources and
gave “substantial” and “some” weight to their opinions respectively. (Doc. 10 at 27). Noting that
these opinions “[did] not exhaustively list [Ison’s] vocational limitations,” the ALJ still described
the nature of the treating relationship and the objective medical evidence in their opinions. For
example, the ALJ noted Dr. Prevedello’s specialty as a neurologist, his role in treating Ison’s
chiari malformation, and listed the objective medical evidence which was “mostly
unremarkable” or “mostly normal.” (Id.). The ALJ adopted the opinions of the treating sources in
part because they were consistent with the record and did not contradict the opinions of the state
agency medical examiners. (Id.). The ALJ fulfilled his procedural obligations because he
adopted the treating sources’ findings, compared them to the record, and found them consistent
with the state agency medical examiners’ assessments.
Ison correctly states that this Court “require[s] some indication that the ALJ at least
considered [the issue of an opinion lacking subsequently added medical evidence] before giving
greater weight to an opinion that is not ‘based on a review of a complete record.” Blakeley, 581
F.3d at 409, quoting Fisk v. Astrue, 253 Fed. App’x 580, 585 (6th Cir. 2007). In the case at hand,
the ALJ compared the state agency medical examiners’ opinions to the medical record and held
that the opinions were consistent with the entire medical record, which showed that Ison has
“neurological problems, but does not appear to be in acute distress and her medical providers
have not attempted surgery.” (Doc. 10 at 27; Id, at 439, 467, 527, 554). The ALJ determined
Ison’s RFC based on “all symptoms and the extent to which these symptoms can reasonably be
accepted as consistent with the objective medical evidence and other evidence,” and, rather than
negating or discounting later medical evidence, incorporated treating source opinions and
plaintiff’s testimony into his RFC assessment. (Id. at 23). See Anderson v. Colvin, No. 2:14-cv1222, 2015 WL 1875359, at *8-9 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 23, 2015) (finding that the ALJ appropriated
relied on a state agency medical examiner’s opinion that did not include later evidence because
the ALJ considered all the evidence, noted that the state agency opinion was consistent with and
supported by the record medical evidence, and the plaintiff failed to cite objective medical
evidence that would alter the opinion’s findings).
Even if the ALJ did not sufficiently address the lack of evidence in the state agency
opinions, the ALJ did not commit an error requiring remand. Though an ALJ should articulate
the reasons for crediting an opinion of a consultant who has not reviewed the complete record, an
ALJ’s opinion “may still be affirmed if substantial evidence supports the opinion and any error is
deemed to be harmless or de minimis.” Swartz v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 1:10-cv-605, 2011
WL 4571877, at *8 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 18, 2011); see Johnson v. Colvin, No. 1:12-cv-401, 2013
WL 2319134, at *7-8 (S.D. Ohio May 28, 2013) (finding that even if the ALJ inadequately
addressed the fact that the state agency medical examiners did not have a complete record when
rendering their opinions, the ALJ comported with the requirements from Blakely by conducting a
thorough review of the evidence, stating and explaining that the state agency medical opinions
were consist with the overall record, and resolving any inconsistencies within the record).
The ALJ neither ignored nor discounted the objective medical evidence and opinions of
treating sources, but instead conducted a lengthy review of the evidence, supported the weight
given to the medical opinions, and found that nothing in the record contradicted the findings of
the state agency medical examiners. (Id. 23-28). As stated by the Magistrate Judge, the ALJ had
substantial evidence to support his RFC assessment because “[t]here is nothing in either of these
providers’ treatment notes that suggested that Plaintiff would miss more than two days of work
per month due to her impairments, or that her headaches created severe enough functional
limitations that she was not capable of work.” (Doc. 13 at 11). See McGrew v. Comm’r of Soc.
Sec., No. 08-4561, 2009 WL 2514081, at *32 (6th Cir. Aug. 19, 2009) (concluding that the ALJ
did not err in relying on the state agency medical consultant’s opinion despite it not including
evidence submitted after the review because the ALJ reviewed that evidence and incorporated
any relevant changes to the plaintiff’s condition in the RFC assessment). The ALJ also resolved
any inconsistencies in the record by making his credibility determination as to Ison’s testimony
and subjective reports of symptoms. (Doc. 10 at 24-25). In sum, the ALJ fairly weighed the
evidence as a whole and explained the weight given to credible sources, as required under
For these reasons, the Court ACCEPTS and AFFIRMS Magistrate Judge Jolson’s
Report and Recommendation (Doc. 13), thereby OVERRULING Ison’s objections (Docs. 11,
14). The Commissioner’s denial of benefits is AFFIRMED. This case is hereby DISMISSED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Algenon L. Marbley
ALGENON L. MARBLEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
DATED: September 18, 2017
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