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Flowers v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 17, 2015

JASON M. FLOWERS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

MONA K. MAJZOUB, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Jason Flowers 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. 17) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 18). Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant's Motion. (Docket no. 19.) 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 pursuant to E.D. Mich. L.R. 7.1(f)(2), and issues this Report and Recommendation.

I. Recommendation

The undersigned recommends that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [17] be DENIED and that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [18] be GRANTED.

II. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and for Supplemental Security Income with protective filing dates of January 24, 2012, alleging that he had been disabled since March 30, 2011, due to PTSD, Asthma, Depression, and Anxiety. (TR 258; see also, TR 11.) The Social Security Administration denied benefits. ( See TR 11.) Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing, which was held on December 5, 2012, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Kevin J. Detherage, 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 11-24.) 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 Testimony

The ALJ set out a detailed factual recitation with regard to Plaintiff's medical record, Plaintiff's hearing testimony, and the VE's testimony. (TR 17-23.) Defendant adopts the ALJ's recitation of facts. (Docket no. 18 at 5.) Plaintiff addresses the relevant factual background through his argument. ( See docket no. 17 at 6-9.) There are no material inconsistencies between the ALJ's factual recitation and Plaintiff's arguments with the exception of the ALJ's discussion (or lack thereof), related to Exhibit 9F, as discussed herein. Therefore, the undersigned will incorporate the ALJ's factual recitation by reference. Additionally, 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.

IV. Administrative Law Judge's Determination

The ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through June 30, 2011; that he had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 30, 2011, his alleged onset date; and that he suffered from severe PTSD, depression, and left arm ulnar neuropathy. (TR 13.) The ALJ also noted that Plaintiff's asthma was not a severe impairment. (TR 14.) The ALJ then found that his impairments did not meet or equal those listed in the Listing of Impairments. (TR 14-17.) The ALJ found, however, that Plaintiff's allegations regarding the extent of his symptoms were not wholly credible and that Plaintiff could perform light work with the following additional limitations:

[The claimant] is limited to simple, repetitive, and non-detailed tasks. The claimant can have occasional contact with coworkers and the public. He can have occasional supervisory contact. The changes in the workplace would be infrequent and gradually introduced. He should avoid concentrated exposure to dusts, fumes, gases, odors, and poorly ventilated areas. The claimant can frequently reach in any direction with his left upper extremity.

(TR 17-22.)

The ALJ then determined, in reliance on the VE's testimony, that Plaintiff was capable of performing work at the light level, including that of a cleaner, garment sorter, or folding machine operator. (TR 22-23.) Therefore, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social ...


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