United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
RALPH M. YACKLEY, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER ON CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (DOCS. 14, 17)
PATRICIA T. MORRIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Introduction and Procedural History
an action for judicial review of a final decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff Ralph
Yackley's claim for disability benefits under the
Disability Insurance Benefits program of Title II, 42 U.S.C.
§ 401 et seq. (Doc. 1). The case is before the
undersigned magistrate judge pursuant to the parties'
consent under 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), E.D. Mich. LR
72.1(b)(3), and by Notice of Reference. (Docs. 4, 13). The
matter is currently before the Court on cross-motions for
summary judgment. (Docs. 14, 17).
was 58 years old when his insured status expired in December
2012. (Tr. 146). On April 2, 2014, he filed his initial
application for Disability Insurance Benefits. (Tr. 131-32).
After the Commissioner denied his claim, Yackley requested a
hearing, (Tr. 80), which was held before Administrative Law
Judge Amy L. Rosenberg, (Tr. 28), and included testimony from
both Yackley, (Tr. 33), and Vocational Expert Amelia Shelton,
(Tr. 50). Yackley also took the opportunity to amend his
alleged onset date from January 15, 2008, to August 28, 2012.
(Tr. 16, 196). Ultimately, the ALJ found that Yackley had not
had a disability during the relevant time period. (Tr. 24),
and the Appeals Council denied Yackley's request for
review. (Tr. 1, 16-24). This action followed.
Standard of Review
district court has jurisdiction to review the
Commissioner's final administrative decision pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The district court's review is
restricted to determining whether the “Commissioner has
failed to apply the correct legal standard or has made
findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the
record.” Sullivan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
595 F. App'x 502, 506 (6th Cir. 2014) (internal citations
omitted). Substantial evidence is “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) (internal quotations omitted).
Court must examine the administrative record as a whole, and
may consider any evidence in the record, regardless of
whether it has been cited by the ALJ. See Walker v.
Secretary of Health and Human Services, 884 F.2d 241,
245 (6th Cir. 1989). The Court will not “try the case
de novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide
questions of credibility.” Cutlip v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir.
1994). If the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence, “it must be affirmed even if the
reviewing court would decide the matter differently and even
if substantial evidence also supports the opposite
conclusion.” Id. at 286 (internal citations
Framework for Disability Determinations
the Act, “DIB and SSI are available only for those who
have a ‘disability.'” Colvin v.
Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007).
“Disability” means 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 [twelve] months.
42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A) (DIB); 20
C.F.R. § 416.905(a) (SSI).
Commissioner's regulations provide that disability is to
be determined through the application of a five-step
(i) At the first step, we consider your work activity, if
any. If you are doing substantial gainful activity, we will
find that you are not disabled. . . .
(ii) At the second step, we consider the medical severity of
your impairment(s). If you do not have a severe medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that meets the
duration requirement . . . or a combination of impairments
that is severe and meets the duration requirement, we will
find that you are not disabled. . . .
(iii) At the third step, we also consider the medical
severity of your impairment(s). If you have an impairment(s)
that meets or equals one of our listings in appendix 1 of
this subpart and meets the duration requirement, we will find
that you are disabled. . . .
(iv) At the fourth step, we consider our assessment of your
residual functional capacity and your past relevant work. If
you can still do your past relevant work, we will find that
you are not disabled. . . .
(v) At the fifth and last step, we consider our assessment of
your residual functional capacity and your age, education,
and work experience to see if you can make an adjustment to
other work. If you can make an adjustment to other work, we
will find that you are not disabled. If you cannot make an
adjustment to other work, we will find that you are disabled.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. See also Heston
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir.
2001). “Through step four, the claimant bears the
burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations
caused by [his or] her impairments and the fact that [he or]
she is precluded from performing [his or] her past relevant
work.” Jones v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003). A claimant must
establish a medically determinable physical or mental
impairment (expected to last at least twelve months or result
in death) that rendered him unable to engage in substantial
gainful activity. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The burden
transfers to the Commissioner if the analysis reaches the
fifth step without a finding that the claimant is not
disabled. Combs v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 459 F.3d
640, 643 (6th Cir. 2006). At the fifth step, the Commissioner
is required to show that “other jobs in significant
numbers exist in the national economy that [the claimant]
could perform given [his or] her RFC [residual functional
capacity] and considering relevant vocational factors.”
Rogers, 486 F.3d at 241 (citing 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(v), (g)).
the five-step sequential analysis, the ALJ concluded that
Yackley was not disabled under the Act. At Step One, the ALJ
found that Yackley did not engage in substantial gainful
activity between his alleged onset date of August 28, 2012,
and his date last insured of December 31, 2012. (Tr. 18). At
Step Two, the ALJ found that Yackley had several severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease and stenosis of the
lumbar spine, obesity, and osteoarthritis. (Tr. 18). The ALJ
further determined, however, that none of these impairments
met or medically equaled a listed impairment. (Tr. 20).
then found that Yackley had the residual functional capacity
to perform medium work “except: he can frequently
climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl, ” (Tr.
20), which left him unable to perform his past relevant work
in a composite position as “stock clerk grocery”
and “cashier.” (Tr. 22). Finally, at Step Five,
the ALJ found that through the date last insured,
“there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in
the national economy that the claimant could have
performed”-namely, laundry worker, linen room
attendant, or packager. (Tr. 23).
Court has thoroughly reviewed Yackley's medical record.
In lieu of summarizing his medical history here, the Court
will make reference and provide citations to the record as
necessary in its discussion of the parties' arguments.
Application Reports and Administrative Hearing
Yackley's Function Report
completed his function report on July 22, 2014. He indicated
that his alleged medical conditions sometimes affected his
daily life. For example, he reported some difficulty
sleeping, as he was “unable to get comfortable, ”
and had to “get up and sit in [a] lounge chair for a
while-then back to bed.” He had “trouble with
socks and shoes” and had to use the shower instead of
the tub for bathing, but otherwise indicated no problems with
personal care. (Tr. 172).
marked that he had trouble with lifting, squatting, bending,
standing, walking, sitting, kneeling, and climbing stairs.
(Tr. 176). He could lift 10 to 20 pounds and walk “a
very short distance, ” “100 yards” or