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Foley v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

March 27, 2017

John Foley, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis, U.S. Magistrate Judge


          Arthur J. Tarnow, Senior U.S. District Judge

         On February 16, 2017, Magistrate Judge Davis issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) [18], recommending that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [15] be granted and, accordingly, that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [14] be denied. Plaintiff filed an objection [19] on March 2, 2017, and Defendant filed a response [20] on March 13, 2017. For the reasons stated below, the R&R [18] is ADOPTED and is entered as the findings and conclusions of the Court, and Plaintiff's objection [19] is OVERRULED. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [15] is GRANTED and Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [14] is DENIED.

         Statement of Facts

         Plaintiff filed a claim seeking disability benefits on December 10, 2013, alleging that he became disabled and unable to work, commencing September 1, 2012. His claims were denied, initially on April 2, 2014. Plaintiff subsequently had an administrative hearing on December 10, 2014, and a decision was issued on January 27, 2015, determining that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.

         The Magistrate Judge summarized the administrative record of Plaintiff's disability application as follows:

Plaintiff was 50 years old on the alleged disability date. (Dkt. 12-2, Pg ID 61). Plaintiff, a resident of Detroit, Michigan, has a high school education and past relevant work as a material handler, forklift driver and production machine tender, which are classified as medium or heavy and skilled. Id. Plaintiff testified that he could not work because of fatigue, limited lifting and walking ability, leftsided weakness, and difficulty with his memory and completing tasks. (Dkt. 12-2, Pg ID 59, 83-84).
The ALJ applied the five-step disability analysis to plaintiff's claims and found at step one that plaintiff did not engage in any substantial gainful activity since the application date. Id. at 56. At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the following severe impairments: status-post cerebrovascular accident, status-post myocardial infarction, hypertension, and adjustment disorder. Id. At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled one of the listings in the regulations. Id. at 57. The ALJ determined the following as to plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC):
After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except: the claimant could occasionally kneel, crouch, crawl, climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. He could frequently balance and stoop. He should avoid hazardous machinery and heights. He would be limited to simple routine tasks.
Id. at 58. At step four, the ALJ determined that plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work. Id. at 61. At step five, the ALJ concluded that based on plaintiffs age, education, work experience and RFC, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could have performed and, therefore, he was not under a disability from the date of the application through the date of the decision. Id. at 61-62.

[18 at 2-4].

         Standard of Review

         This Court reviews objections to an R&R on a dispositive motion de novo. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c). Judicial review of a decision by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) is limited to determining whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the ALJ employed the proper legal standards. Richardson v. Perales,402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). The ALJ's factual findings “are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence.” Maziarz v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,837 F.2d 240, 243 (6th Cir. 1987). “Substantial evidence is defined as more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec,486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007). The substantial evidence standard “does not permit a selective reading of the record, ” as ...

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