Todd Moats v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.

RECOMMENDED FOR PUBLICATION Pursuant to Sixth Circuit I.O.P. 32.1(b) File Name: 22a0166p.06 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT ┐ TODD ALLEN MOATS, │ Plaintiff-Appellant, │ > No. 21-3702 │ v. │ │ COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, │ Defendant-Appellee. │ ┘ Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Toledo. No. 3:20-cv-00265—Jeffrey James Helmick, District Judge. Decided and Filed: July 27, 2022 Before: SUTTON, Chief Judge; KETHLEDGE and READLER, Circuit Judges. _________________ COUNSEL ON BRIEF: Randal S. Forbes, FORBES RODMAN PC, Angola, Indiana, for Appellant. Alison Schwartz, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Chicago, Illinois, for Appellee. READLER, J., delivered the opinion of the court in which SUTTON, C.J. and KETHLEDGE, J., joined. READLER, J. (pp. 10–14), also delivered a separate concurring opinion. _________________ OPINION _________________ CHAD A. READLER, Circuit Judge. Todd Moats suffers from peripheral neuropathy, which prevents him from wearing closed-toed shoes for lengthy periods. This condition caused Moats to leave his job as a forklift operator and apply for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income through the Social Security Administration. Following a hearing, No. 21-3702 Todd Moats v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Page 2 an administrative law judge found that Moats’s condition prevented him from returning to his previous job. Nonetheless, because, as the ALJ found, Moats could still perform a number of jobs available throughout the national economy, his application for benefits was denied. As substantial evidence supports that determination, we affirm. In so doing, we reject Moats’s argument that the ALJ failed to adequately develop the record. BACKGROUND Todd Moats worked as a forklift operator at the Campbell Soup Company. He eventually left that position due to pain and excessive sweating in his feet when he wore closed-toed shoes. A few months later, he applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income through the Social Security Administration. In his application, Moats alleged that he was disabled due to his neuropathy as well as a host of other conditions, including diabetes, fatigue, and a learning disability. The agency denied Moats’s application and subsequent request for reconsideration. Moats requested a hearing before an ALJ. The agency notified Moats by letter that he was allowed representation at the hearing and provided a list of legal aid organizations. In its letter, the agency also detailed the process for submitting evidence, indicating that Moats could testify and put on witnesses at the hearing. Finally, the agency explained what factors the ALJ would consider when determining Moats’s eligibility for disability benefits. Disability benefits hearings before the Social Security Administration, it bears noting, are considered adjudicative, not adversarial, in nature. Biestek v. Berryhill, 139 S. Ct. 1148, 1152 (2019)). A claimant has the right to designate a person to represent him during the hearing. 42 U.S.C. § 406; 20 C.F.R. § 404.938(b)(2). The Social Security Administration, on the other hand, has no representative before the ALJ. Carr v. Saul, 141 S. Ct. 1352, 1359 (2021). Together, the ALJ and the claimant—here Moats—consider the claimant’s request …

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