United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
KEITH R. MAGIC, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MONA K. MAJZOUB, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Keith Magic seeks judicial review of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's determination that he is not entitled to social security benefits for his mental impairments under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 19) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 20). Plaintiff also filed a response to Defendant's Motion. (Docket no. 21.) 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. 9.) The Court has reviewed the pleadings, dispenses with a hearing pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), and issues this Report and Recommendation.
For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 19) be DENIED and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 20) be GRANTED.
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits with a protective filing date of February 13, 2012, alleging that he has been disabled since February 4, 2008, due to Tourette's syndrome, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (TR 156-57, 189, 193.) The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's claims initially on June 14, 2012 and again upon reconsideration on July 25, 2012. (TR 66-69.) Plaintiff subsequently requested a de novo hearing. (TR 78-79.) On August 26, 2013, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at the hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) B. Lloyd Blair. (TR 31-65.) In a September 17, 2013 decision, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits because he was capable of performing a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (TR 14-25.) The Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision (TR 5-9), and Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review. The parties then filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the Court.
III. HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE
In his brief, Plaintiff sets forth the procedural history of this matter, summaries of his hearing testimony and his uncle's hearing testimony, and a recitation of the medical evidence that was not included in the ALJ's decision. (Docket no. 19 at 2-7.) The ALJ set out a detailed, factual recitation with regard to Plaintiff's hearing testimony, Plaintiff's uncle's testimony, Plaintiff's medical record, and the vocational expert's (VE's) testimony in his decision. (TR 19-23, 24.) Also, Defendant has included concise summaries of Plaintiff's medical record and hearing testimony in her brief. (Docket no. 20 at 6-8.) There are no material inconsistencies between Plaintiff's, the ALJ's, and Defendant's accounts of the record; therefore, the undersigned will incorporate these factual recitations 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 had not engaged in substantial gainful activity between the alleged onset date of February 4, 2008 and the date last insured of December 31, 2009, and that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: major depression disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and Tourette's syndrome. (TR 16.) Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 16-18.) The ALJ then found that Plaintiff had the following residual functional capacity (RFC):
[T]hrough the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) except: simple unskilled work with a specific vocational preparation (SVP) of 1 or 2; brief and superficial contact with the public; work involving only 1, 2 or 3 step instructions; no work involving concentration on detailed precision tasks or multitasking, reading, or computing with calculating or problem solving; no work that requires team work or working in close physical proximity of coworkers; work at a flexible pace without an up line or down line coworker depending on the claimant's productivity; and work allowing the claimant to have personal dress and hygiene at less than the normal standard for a general office setting.
(TR 18-23.) Subsequently, in reliance on the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (TR 23-24.) Therefore, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act at any time from the alleged onset date of February 4, 2008, through the date last insured of December 31, 2009. (TR 24-25.)
V. LAW AND ANALYSIS
A. Standard of Review
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final decisions. Judicial review of the Commissioner's decisions is limited to determining whether his findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether he employed the proper legal standards. See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Walters v. Comm'r, 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)); Walters, 127 F.3d at 528. It is not the function of this Court to try cases de novo, resolve conflicts in the evidence, or decide questions of credibility. See Brainard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989); Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984).
In determining the existence of substantial evidence, the court must examine the administrative record as a whole. See Kirk v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 667 F.2d 524, 536 (6th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 461 U.S. 957 (1983). If the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, it must be affirmed, even if the reviewing court would decide the matter differently, Kinsella v. Schweiker, 708 F.2d 1058, 1059 (6th Cir. 1983), and even if substantial evidence also supports the opposite conclusion. See Her v. Comm'r, 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999); Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986) (en banc) (noting that the ...