United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MICHELE C. DAVIS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Honorable Avern Cohn
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF. NOS. 18, 24]
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD United States Magistrate Judge
Michelle C. Davis appeals a final decision of defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying her
application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and
supplemental security income benefits (SSI) 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 plaintiff
has identified no reversible error, and thus
. the Commissioner's motion [ECF No. 24]
. Davis's motion [ECF No. 18] be
. the Commissioner's decision be
AFFIRMED pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
Davis's Background and Disability Applications
January 20, 1976, Davis was 35 years old at the time of her
amended onset date of December 5, 2011. [ECF No. 15-3, Tr.
90; ECF No. 15-5, Tr. 233]. For DIB purposes, her date last
insured was December 31, 2011. [ECF No. 15-2, Tr. 20]. Davis
has a high school education, and is able to communicate in
English. [Id., Tr. 32]. She has prior work history
as a nurse assistant, receptionist, cashier, bookkeeper, and
bank teller. [Id.] She claimed to be disabled due to
complex regional pain syndrome of the right foot and leg,
obstructive sleep apnea, chronic migraines, high blood
pressure, diverticulosis, chronic urinary tract infections,
chronic nausea, and severe plantar warts on the left foot.
[ECF No. 15-3, Tr. 90].
the Commissioner initially denied her applications, Davis
requested a hearing, which took place in May 2016, during
which she and a vocational expert (VE) testified. [ECF No.
15-2, Tr. 41-89]. In a May 23, 2016, written decision, the
ALJ found Davis to be not disabled prior to March 23, 2014,
but to be disabled after that date. [ECF No. 15-2, Tr.
16-40]. The Appeals Council denied review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner,
and Davis timely filed for judicial review of the
disfavorable portion of the ALJ's decision. [ECF No.
15-2, Tr. 1-4; ECF No. 1].
The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework
SSI are 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), 1382c(a)(3)(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); 416.920(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 (RFC), 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 Davis was not disabled
prior to March 23, 2014. At the first step, he found that
Davis had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
her amended alleged onset date. [ECF No. 15-2, Tr. 22]. At
the second step, the ALJ found that since the amended alleged
onset date, December 5, 2011, Davis had the severe
impairments of obesity, migraines with photophobia, varicose
veins, plantar warts, posttraumatic stress disorder, social
anxiety disorder, and panic disorder with agoraphobia.
[Id.] Next, the ALJ concluded that none of
Davis's impairments, either alone or in combination, met
or medically equaled the severity of a listed impairment.
[Id., Tr. 23].
the third and fourth steps, the ALJ found that prior to March
23, 2014, the date Davis became disabled, she had the RFC to
perform sedentary work as defined by 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a),
and with the following additional limitations:
She could lift no more than 10 pounds at a time and
occasionally lift or carry articles such as docket files,
ledgers, and small tools. She could sit for six hours in an
eight-hour day and stand and walk for two hours in an
eight-hour day. She could occasionally climb ramps and stairs
but could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She could
occasionally balance and stoop, but never kneel, crouch, or
crawl. She was limited to simple, routine, and repetitive
tasks. She could frequently interact with supervisors and
coworkers, but only occasionally interact with the public.
[Id., Tr. 25 ]. At step four, the ALJ found that
Davis was unable to perform any past relevant work since her
amended alleged onset date. [Id., Tr.32]. With the
assistance of VE testimony, he determined at step five that
prior to March 23, 2014, there were jobs that Davis could
perform such as bench assembler, inserter, and sorter, and
that those jobs existed in significant ...