United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Sean F. Cox United States District Judge
Plaintiff Sheila Helen Lash (“Plaintiff”) brought this action challenging the Commissioner’s decision disallowing benefits. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub for determination of all non-dispositive motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C).
The parties subsequently filed cross-motions for summary judgment. In a twelve-page Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) issued on June 28, 2013, Magistrate Judge Majzoub recommended that this Court: 1) deny Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment; and 2) grant the Commissioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment, thereby affirming the findings and conclusions of the Commissioner.
Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), a party objecting to the recommended disposition of a matter by a magistrate judge must file objections to the R&R within fourteen (14) days after being served with a copy of the R&R. “The district judge to whom the case is assigned shall make a de novo determination upon the record, or after additional evidence, of any portion of the magistrate judge’s disposition to which specific written objection has been made.” Id.
Plaintiff filed a timely objection on July 12, 2013. (Docket Entry No. 16). The Commissioner did not file a response. This Court adopted the R&R in an opinion and order dated August 29, 2013. (Docket Entry No. 18). Plaintiff appealed the Court’s judgment to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals; that Court vacated the August 29, 2013 decision and remanded the matter for consideration of Plaintiff’s objection. (Docket Entry No. 25).
In her lone objection, Plaintiff contends that “[t]he Magistrate Judge erred in simply looking to the number of jobs existing in the national economy and finding that a significant number existed without more analysis.” (Pl.’s Obj. at 2). Specifically, Plaintiff argues that: (a) controlling case law required the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to conduct further analysis before concluding that a significant number of jobs existed in the national economy; and (b) the magistrate judge relied on inapposite case law when she affirmed the ALJ’s conclusion that a significant number of available jobs exist in the national economy.
Under the authority of the Social Security Act, the Social Security Administration utilizes a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining whether an individual is disabled. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). Although the Plaintiff has the burden of proof at steps one through four, the burden shifts to the Commissioner at step five to demonstrate that the claimant “cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy. . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A); see also Jenkins v. Bowen, 861 F.2d 1083, 1087 (6th Cir. 1988). “‘Work which exists in the national economy’ means work which exists in significant numbers either in the region where such individual lives or in several regions of the country.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).
In determining whether the pertinent jobs in the national economy are limited and isolated, an ALJ should consider such factors as “the level of claimant’s disability; the reliability of the vocational expert’s testimony; the reliability of the claimant’s testimony; the distance claimant is capable of traveling to engage in the assigned work; the isolated nature of the jobs; the types and availability of such work, and so on.” Hall v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 272, 275 (6th Cir. 1988). These factors are, however, “suggestions only–the ALJ need not explicitly consider each factor,” and the Social Security Act and corresponding regulations “make it clear that the test is whether work exists in the national economy, not in plaintiff’s neighborhood.” Harmon v. Apfel, 168 F.3d 289, 292 (6th Cir. 1999) (citing Hall, 837 F.2d at 275).
In determining whether the Commissioner satisfied step-five of the sequential evaluation process, the ALJ reasoned as follows:
the [ALJ] asked the vocational expert whether jobs existed in the national economy for an individual with the [Plaintiff]’s age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity. The vocational expert testified that given all of these factors the individual would have been able to perform the requirements of representative occupations such as 500 surveillance systems monitor jobs in the local economy and 21,000 such jobs nationally, 250 document preparer jobs in the local economy and 30,000 such jobs nationally, and 200 order clerk jobs in the local economy and 16,000 such jobs nationally.
Pursuant to SSR 00-4p, the vocational expert’s testimony is consistent with the information contained in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.
Based on the testimony of the vocational expert, the undersigned concludes that, through the date last insured, considering the [Plaintiff’s] age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the [Plaintiff] was capable of making a successful adjustment to other work that existed in significant numbers in the national economy.
(Docket Entry No. 10, Ex. 1). Plaintiff contends the ALJ failed to properly consider the Hall factors when she concluded that Plaintiff could perform 950 jobs in the Southeast Michigan Region or 67,000 jobs nationally. Id. The Court disagrees.
As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that the ALJ considered four of the six Hall factors. Indeed, the ALJ considered: (a) the level of Plaintiff’s disability, see Tr. at 266-269; (b) the reliability of the vocational expert’s testimony, see Docket Entry No. 10, Ex. 1; (c) the reliability of Plaintiff’s testimony, see Tr. at 267; and (d) the types and availability of work available in the national economy, see Docket Entry No. 10, Ex. 1. Therefore, the ALJ’s analysis ...