United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Paducah Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
KING, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs complaint seeking
judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of the
final decision of the Commissioner denying his claim for
Social Security disability benefits. Plaintiffs motion for
judgment on the pleadings (i.e., the administrative record)
and Defendant's fact and law summary in opposition are at
Dockets 16 and 23. The parties have consented to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned Magistrate Judge to determine
this case, with any appeal lying before the Sixth Circuit
Court of Appeals. Docket 13.
at worst, Plaintiffs arguments identify a harmless error, the
Court will DENY Plaintiffs motion for judgment on the
pleadings, AFFIRM the Commissioner's final decision, and
DISMISS Plaintiff's complaint.
principle that judicial review contemplates a deferential
review of final agency decisions is deeply-embedded in
case-law. See, for example, Shinseki v. Sanders, 556
U.S. 396, 407 (2009) (The harmless error doctrine is intended
to prevent reviewing courts from becoming “impregnable
citadels of technicality”); Heston v.
Commissioner, 245 F.3d 528, 535-36 (6th Cir.2001)
(Remand to correct an error committed by the ALJ unnecessary
where such error was harmless); Fisher v. Secretary,
869 F.2d 1055, 1057 (7th Cir.1989) (“[N]o principle of
administrative law or common sense requires us to remand a
case in quest of a perfect opinion unless there is reason to
believe that the remand might lead to a different
result”); Bennyhill v. Secretary, 1993 WL
361792 (6th Cir.) (“[T]he court will remand the case to
the agency for further consideration only if the court is in
substantial doubt whether the administrative agency would
have made the same ultimate finding with the erroneous
finding removed from the picture”).
unsupported finding that Plaintiff engaged in substantial
gainful activity (SGA) was harmless.
regulations promulgated by the Commissioner establish a
5-step sequential evaluation process:
1. If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the
claimant is not disabled.
2. If the claimant does not have a severe
medically-determinable physical or mental impairment (i.e.,
an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical
or mental ability to do basic work activities), the claimant
is not disabled.
3. If the claimant has a severe impairment satisfying the
medical criteria of an impairment listed in Appendix 1 of the
regulations and the 12-month duration requirement, the
claimant is disabled.
4. If the claimant's impairment(s) and associated
restrictions do not prevent him from doing his past relevant
work, the claimant is not disabled.
5. If the claimant can perform other work existing in
significant numbers in the national economy, he is not
disabled. Otherwise, he is disabled.
Rubbers v. Commissioner, 582 F.3d 647, 652 (6th Cir.
2009) citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.920.
argues that the ALJ's first-step finding that he engaged
in substantial gainful activity (SGA) during the time in
which he alleges ...