Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Dew v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

February 27, 2017

KATHERINE DEW, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

         OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION (DKT. 24), (2) ACCEPTING THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE (DKT. 21), (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. 19), AND (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKT. 20)

          HON. MARK A. GOLDSMITH, Judge

         In this social security case, Plaintiff Katherine Dew appeals from the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security that she is not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to disability benefits. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti for a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment (Dkts. 19, 20), and Magistrate Judge Patti issued an R&R recommending that the Court grant the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment and deny Dew's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 21). Dew filed an objection to the R&R (Dkt. 24); the Commissioner subsequently filed a response (Dkt. 25).

         For the reasons that follow, the Court overrules Dew's objection and accepts the recommendation contained in the magistrate judge's R&R. The Commissioner's motion is granted, and Dew's motion is denied. The final decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court reviews de novo those portions of the R&R to which a specific objection has been made. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court's “review is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's decision ‘is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.'” Ealy v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 594 F.3d 504, 512 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007)). “Substantial evidence is ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Lindsley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). In determining whether substantial evidence exists, the Court may “look to any evidence in the record, regardless of whether it has been cited by the [Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)].” Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 535 (6th Cir. 2001). “[T]he claimant bears the burden of producing sufficient evidence to show the existence of a disability.” Watters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 530 F. App'x 419, 425 (6th Cir. 2013).

         II. ANALYSIS

         Dew offers one objection to the magistrate judge's R&R, namely, that the magistrate judge erred in finding that the ALJ's failure to evaluate Listing 4.02 was harmless error. See Pl. Obj. at 3. Within her objection, Dew also contends that the ALJ should have requested further information from Dew's treating source prior to making a determination under Listing 4.02. Id. The Court concludes that Dew's objection lacks merit.

         Dew “objects to the finding of the Magistrate Judge that Plaintiff failed to meet the listing 4.02, and that the failure of the ALJ to discuss same was harmless error.” Pl. Obj. at 4. In response, the Commissioner argues that, while the ALJ should have at least addressed Listing 4.02, the failure to address the listing was harmless because there is not sufficient evidence in the record demonstrating that Dew was able to meet or equal the requirements of the listing. Def. Resp. at 1-2.

         A claimant is entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act if she can demonstrate her “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); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505, 416.905. A five-step process, set forth in accompanying regulations, outlines whether a claimant is considered disabled under the statute. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. The first step considers whether the claimant is currently involved in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(4)(i). If not, the ALJ moves on to consider the medical severity of the claimant's impairment. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(4)(ii).

         The third step, the step at issue in this case, involves a determination whether the claimant's impairment “meets or equals” one of the impairments listed in the regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(4)(iii). If the impairment does meet or equal one of the listed impairments, then the ALJ must find that the claimant is disabled. Id. If the impairment does not meet or equal any of the listings, the ALJ will move on to assess the claimant's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) and determine whether her RFC, age, education, and work experience allow her to make adjustments to other work. Smith-Johnson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 579 F. App'x 426, 431 (6th Cir. 2014). If so, the ALJ will find that the claimant is not disabled. Id.

         In the instant action, the ALJ found that Dew's impairment did not meet or equal any of the listings and that her RFC, age, education, and work experience allowed her to make adjustments to other work. Administrative Record (“A.R.”) at 15 (Dkt. 15). Dew argues that she met Listing 4.02 and that the ALJ's failure to address this listing is reversible error.

         “[N]either the listings nor the Sixth Circuit require the ALJ to ‘address every listing' or ‘to discuss listings that the applicant clearly does not meet.'” Smith-Johnson, 579 F. App'x at 432 (quoting Sheeks v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 544 F. App'x 639, 641 (6th Cir. 2013)). “The ALJ should discuss the relevant listing, however, where the record raises ‘a substantial question as to whether [the claimant] could qualify as disabled' under a listing.” Id. (quoting Abbott v. Sullivan, 905 F.2d 918, 925 (6th Cir. 1990)). However, “[a] claimant must do more than point to evidence on which the ALJ could have based his finding to raise a ‘substantial question' as to whether he has satisfied a listing. Rather, the claimant must point to specific evidence that demonstrates he reasonably could meet or equal every requirement of the listing.” Id. “Absent such evidence, the ALJ does not commit reversible error by failing to evaluate a listing at Step Three.” Id. at 433.

         As a result, Dew is only entitled to remand if she can point to specific evidence in the record demonstrating that she reasonably could meet or equal every requirement of Listing 4.02. In order to qualify as disabled ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.