United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
WILLIAM M. CALDWELL, JR., Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
Honorable Laurie J. Michelson, Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 14, 17]
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD United States Magistrate Judge
William Caldwell appeals a final decision of defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying his
applications for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income Benefits (SSI) under the Social
Security Act. Both parties have filed summary judgment
motions, referred to this Court for a report and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
After review of the record, the Court finds that the
administrative law judge's (ALJ) decision is supported by
substantial evidence, and thus RECOMMENDS that:
. the Commissioner's motion [ECF No. 17] be GRANTED;
. Caldwell's motion [ECF No. 14] be DENIED; and
. the Commissioner's decision be AFFIRMED, pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Caldwell's Background and Disability
July 17, 1967, Caldwell was 43 years old when he submitted
his disability applications on June 15, 2011. [ECF No. 10-5,
Tr. 207]. He had past relevant work as a pulper, lead person,
garbage collector/driver, and truss assembler. [ECF No. 10-2,
Tr. 20-21]. Caldwell alleged disability from chronic back and
neck pain, depression, nerve damage to the neck requiring
surgery, inability to grip with either hand, chronic lower
back pain, cellulitis in the left leg, and hypothyroidism,
with an onset date of July 8, 2007. [ECF No. 10-6, 238, 248].
his application was denied initially, Caldwell requested a
hearing, which took place on April 19, 2013, and included
testimony from Caldwell and a vocational expert
(“VE”). [ECF No. 10-2, Tr. 28-39]. A supplemental
hearing was held on October 8, 2013. [ECF No. 10-2, Tr.
40-84]. In an April 25, 2014, written decision, the ALJ found
Caldwell to be not disabled. [Id., Tr. 13-22]. The
Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner, and Caldwell timely
filed for judicial review. [Id., Tr. 1-6; ECF No.
The ALJ's Application of the Disability
SSI are available for those who have a
“disability.” See Colvin v. Barnhart,
475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). A “disability”
is the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A).
Commissioner determines whether an applicant is disabled by
analyzing five sequential steps. First, if the applicant is
“doing substantial gainful activity, ” he or she
will be found not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). Second, if the claimant has not
had a severe impairment or a combination of such
impairments for a continuous period of at least 12
months, no disability will be found. Id. Third, if
the claimant's severe impairments meet or equal the
criteria of an impairment set forth in the Commissioner's
Listing of Impairments, the claimant will be found disabled.
Id. If the fourth step is reached, the Commissioner
considers its assessment of the claimant's residual
functional capacity, and will find the claimant not disabled
if he or she can still do past relevant work. Id. At
the final step, the Commissioner reviews the claimant's
RFC, age, education and work experiences, and determines
whether the claimant could adjust to other work. Id.
The claimant bears the burden of proof throughout the first
four steps, but the burden shifts to the Commissioner if the
fifth step is reached. Preslar v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
this framework, the ALJ concluded that Caldwell was not
disabled. At the first step, he found that the evidence was
insufficient to establish that Caldwell had engaged in any
substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date.
[ECF No. 10-2, Tr. 15]. At the second step, he found that
Caldwell had the severe impairments of “degenerative
disc disease, generalized anxiety disorder and a history of
substance abuse (in apparent remission).”
[Id., Tr. 16]. Next, the ALJ found that Caldwell did
not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met
or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment.
steps three and four, the ALJ found that Caldwell had the RFC
to perform light work,  except that he “is limited to
occasional overhead reaching bilaterally, must avoid
concentrated exposure to hazards and vibration, and is
limited to simple, routine jobs in a low-contact setting
involving no contact with the general public and only
occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors.”
[Id., Tr. 17].
four, the ALJ found that Caldwell could not perform past
relevant work. [Id., Tr. 20-21]. With the assistance
of VE testimony, the ALJ determined at step five that based
on Caldwell's age, education, work experience and RFC, he
could perform the positions of mail clerk,
cleaner/housekeeper, bakery worker, addresser, document
preparer, and ampule sealer, for which ...