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Jones v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

October 30, 2017

DUSTIN JONES, by AMY JONES, guardian, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Victoria A. Roberts District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Dustin Jones seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's determination that he is not entitled to supplemental security income benefits under the Social Security Act. (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15). The motions have been referred to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Docket no. 4.) Having reviewed the pleadings, the Court dispenses with a hearing pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2) and issues this Report and Recommendation.

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons stated herein, the court should GRANT Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14), DENY Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15), and remand the case to the Commissioner under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On April 7, 2014, Plaintiff applied for supplemental security income, alleging that he has been disabled since August 14, 2014 due to physical and mental impairments. (TR 19.) The Social Security Administration initially denied Plaintiff's claims on August 14, 2014. On November 3, 2015, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Melissa Warner. (TR 38.) On December 23, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's claims. (TR 19-33.) Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council, which was denied on August 31, 2016. (TR 1-8.) On October 25, 2016, Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review, and the parties filed dispositive motions, which are currently before the Court.

         III. HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE

         Plaintiff sets forth a brief summary of his medical issues and hearing testimony. (Docket no. 14, pp. 6-11.) In addition, the ALJ summarized Plaintiff's medical record (TR 21-31), and Defendant deferred to the ALJ's summary (docket no. 15, p. 6). Having reviewed Plaintiff's medical records and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies among these recitations of the record. Therefore, in lieu of re-summarizing this information, the undersigned will incorporate the above-cited factual recitations by reference and refer to the record as necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         IV. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DETERMINATION

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity since April 7, 2014, his application date. (TR 21.) In addition, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: “a history of traumatic brain injury and unspecified depressive disorder.” (TR 21.) Nevertheless, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 23.) In addition, the ALJ determined that:

[Plaintiff has the capacity] to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: No climbing ladders and the like and no exposure to obvious hazards. [Plaintiff] can also: understand, carry out and remember simple instructions where the pace of productivity is not dictated by an external source over which [Plaintiff] has no control such as an assembly line or conveyor belt; make judgments on simple work, and respond appropriately to usual work situations and changes in a routine work setting that is very repetitive from day to day with few and expected changes; and respond appropriately to supervision, but not with the general public, and to occasional contact with coworkers where there is no working in team or tandem with coworkers.

(TR 25.) On the basis of this determination, the ALJ posed a hypothetical to the Vocational Expert (“VE”), who testified that jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (TR 75-80.) Consequently, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time since April 7, 2014, the date of Plaintiff's application. (TR 32.)

         V. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. ...


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