United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S OPINION AND ORDER ON CROSS
MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOCS. 18, 21)
Patricia T. Morris, United States Magistrate Judge.
light of the entire record in this case, I suggest that
substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's
determination that Dettore is not disabled. Accordingly,
IT IS RECOMMENDED that Detorre Motion for
Summary Judgment, (Doc. 18), be DENIED, the
Commissioner's Motion, (Doc. 21), be
GRANTED, and this case be
Introduction and Procedural History
an action for judicial review of a final and partially
favorable decision by the Commissioner of Social Security
granting Plaintiff Debra Angela Dettore's
(“Dettore”) claim for disability benefits since
February 3, 2015-but not between the alleged onset date of
January 31, 2013 and February 3, 2015-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. 12, 13). The matter is currently
before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment.
(Docs. 18, 21).
October 10, 2013, Dettore filed an application for DIB
alleging a disability onset date of January 31, 2013. (Tr.
152-59). The Commissioner denied her claim. (Tr. 87-96).
Dettore then requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”), which occurred on May 6, 2015,
before ALJ Anthony Smereka. (Tr. 28-69). Near the end of the
hearing, the ALJ referred Dettore to another consultative
examiner, (Tr. 68), Ms. Rosenzweig, whose opinion was then
introduced into the record. (Tr. 636-48). Dr. Rizzo, one of
Dettore's treating sources, responded to Ms.
Rosenzweig's opinion, and his response was introduced
into the record as well. (Tr. 649-50). The ALJ's
partially-favorable written decision, issued November 10,
2015, found Dettore disabled as of February 3, 2015, the date
she attained the age of 55, but not disabled between her
alleged onset date and February 3, 2015. (Tr. 8-27). On
December 5, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review, (Tr.
1-3), and Dettore filed for judicial review of that final
decision on February 7, 2017. (Doc. 1).
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 solely 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 quotation marks 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
quotation marks 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.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 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). The Commissioner's
regulations provide that disability is to be determined
through the application of a five-step sequential analysis:
(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 condiser 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 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). 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 authority of the Social Security Act, the SSA has
promulgated regulations that provide for the payment of
disabled child's insurance benefits if the claimant is at
least eighteen years old and has a disability that began
before age twenty-two (20 C.F.R. 404.350(a) (5) (2013). A
claimant must establish a medically determinable physical or
mental impairment (expected to last at least twelve months or
result in death) that rendered her unable to engage in
substantial gainful activity. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
The regulations provide a five-step sequential evaluation for
evaluating disability claims. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.
the five-step sequential analysis, the ALJ found Dettore
disabled as of February 3, 2015, the date she attained the
age of 55, but not disabled between her alleged onset date of
January 31, 2013, and February 3, 2015.. (Tr. 8-27). At Step
One, the ALJ found that Dettore last met the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2017,
and had not engaged in substantial gainful activity in the
interval between her alleged onset date of January 31, 2013
and her date last insured. (Tr. 14). At Step Two, the ALJ
concluded that the following impairments qualified as severe:
depression with anxiety, cervical and lumbar degenerative
disc disease, and arthritis of the carpal and metacarpal
joints of the thumbs. (Tr. 14-15). The ALJ also decided,
however, that none of these met or medically equaled a listed
impairment during the relevant time period between the
alleged onset date and the date she attained age 55 at Step
Three. (Tr. 15-16). Thereafter, the ALJ found that during
this relevant time period Dettore had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work except
she is further limited to standing and walking for 6 out of 8
hours; sitting for 6 out of 8 hours; no exposure to hazards,
including dangerous moving machinery or unprotected heights;
no climbing of ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; no more than
occasional climbing of ramps and stairs, balancing, stooping,
kneeling, and crouching; no crawling; no driving in the
course of employment; no concentrated exposure to vibration;
no constant handling or fingering; limited to unskilled,
simple, routine and repetitive work.
(Tr. 16). At Step Four, the ALJ found Dettore incapable of
performing her past relevant work. (Tr. 20). Proceeding to
Step Five, the ALJ determined that prior to February 3, 2015,
there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that Dettore could have performed. (Tr.
Court has reviewed Dettore's medical record. In lieu of
summarizing her medical history here, the Court will make
references and provide citations to the record as necessary
in its discussion of the parties' arguments.
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