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Farmer v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 23, 2015

KENNETH E. FARMER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MONA K. MAJZOUB, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Kenneth Farmer seeks judicial review of Defendant the Commissioner of Society Security's determination that he is not entitled to social security benefits for his physical and mental impairments under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 17). The motions have been referred to the undersigned for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Docket no. 3.) The Court has reviewed the pleadings, dispenses with a hearing, and issues this Report and Recommendation pursuant to Eastern district of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2).

I. RECOMMENDATION:

The undersigned recommends that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14) be DENIED and that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 17) be GRANTED.

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY:

Plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and for Supplemental Security Income with protective filing dates of May 25, 2011, alleging that he had been disabled since March 9, 2011, due to back pain and depression. ( See TR 10, 12.) The Social Security Administration denied benefits, and Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing, which was held on June 19, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Earl Witten, who subsequently found that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits because he was capable of performing a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (TR 10-18.) The Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision, and Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review. The parties then filed their instant Motions.

III. PLAINTIFF'S TESTIMONY, MEDICAL EVIDENCE, AND VOCATIONAL EXPERT'S TESTIMONY

A. Plaintiff's Testimony and Medical Record

As noted, Plaintiff's claims for benefits arise out of his back-related ailments and his alleged depression.[1] Plaintiff's Motion sets forth a short procedural history of this matter but does not include a statement of facts related to his medical record or his testimony; instead, Plaintiff includes citations to his medical record throughout his argument. ( See docket no. 14.) Defendant (docket no. 17 at 4-10) and the ALJ (TR 14-16), however, each set out a factual background related to Plaintiff's medical record and hearing testimony. The undersigned finds that there are no inconsistencies between Defendant's statements, the ALJ's findings, and Plaintiff's references to his medical record; thus, the Court will incorporate them by reference. Nevertheless, the undersigned has conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript and will include comments and citations as necessary throughout this Report and Recommendation.

C. Vocational Expert's Testimony

The ALJ asked the VE to summarize Plaintiff's past work experience. (TR 52-53.) The ALJ then asked the VE to assume that he found Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity as follows:

... [Plaintiff] has a maximum sustained exertional work capacity to perform light work as that is defined in the regulations.
In order to perform that work there should be no overhead work, no use of foot controls, occasionally bending, twisting and turning. No climbing, crawling, squatting or ...

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