United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
KATHLEEN A. MILLER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Honorable Robert H. Cleland Magistrate, Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF. NOS. 12, 15]
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Kathleen Miller appeals a final decision of defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying her
application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the
Social Security Act. Both parties have filed summary judgment
motions, referred to this Court for a report and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
After review of the record, the Court finds that the
administrative law judge's (ALJ) decision is supported by
substantial evidence, and thus RECOMMENDS
• Miller's motion [ECF No. 12] be
• the Commissioner's motion [ECF No. 15] be
• the Commissioner's decision be
AFFIRMED pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
Miller's Background and Disability Applications
was born on August 28, 1968, making her 44 years old on her
alleged onset date of April 1, 2013. [ECF No. 10-5, Tr. 131].
She applied for disability benefits in January 2014 and is
insured for DIB purposes through March 31, 2018.
[Id.; ECF No. 10-2, Tr. 23]. Miller attained a GED
in 1991 and has prior work history as a barista, cashier, and
fast-food worker. [ECF No. 10-6, Tr. 149-50]. She alleged
disability due to degenerative disc disease (DDD), arthritis,
seizures, spinal and left knee pain, difficult ambulation,
tinnitus, fatigue, sleep difficulties, and anxiety attacks.
[ECF No. 10-6, Tr. 148].
the Commissioner denied her disability application initially,
Miller requested a hearing, which took place in September
2015, during which she and a vocational expert (VE)
testified. [ECF No. 10-2, Tr. 33-54]. In a November 4, 2015,
written decision, the ALJ found Miller to be not disabled.
[Id., Tr. 28]. The Appeals Council denied review,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner, and Miller timely filed for judicial review.
[Id., Tr. 1-3; ECF No. 1].
The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework
available for those who have a “disability.”
See Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir.
2007). A “disability” is 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
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
Commissioner determines whether an applicant is disabled by
analyzing five sequential steps. First, if the applicant is
“doing substantial gainful activity, ” he or she
will be found not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4).
Second, if the claimant has not had a severe impairment or a
combination of such impairments for a continuous period of at
least 12 months, no disability will be found. Id.
Third, if the claimant's severe impairments meet or equal
the criteria of an impairment set forth in the
Commissioner's Listing of Impairments, the claimant will
be found disabled. Id. If the fourth step is
reached, the Commissioner considers its assessment of the
claimant's residual functional capacity, and will find
the claimant not disabled if he or she can still do past
relevant work. Id. At the final step, the
Commissioner reviews the claimant's RFC, age, education
and work experiences, and determines whether the claimant
could adjust to other work. Id. The claimant bears
the burden of proof throughout the first four steps, but the
burden shifts to the Commissioner if the fifth step is
reached. Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
this framework, the ALJ concluded that Miller was not
disabled. At the first step, he found that Miller had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged
onset date. [ECF No. 10-2, Tr. 23]. At the second step, the
ALJ found that Miller had the severe impairments of
degenerative disc disease, arthritis, seizure disorder, and
high blood pressure. [Id.]. Next, the ALJ concluded
that none of the ...