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Amennuno v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

November 16, 2017

CHARLES AMENNUNO, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Honorable Linda V. Parker

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [15, 20]

          DAVID R. GRAND United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Charles Amennuno (“Amennuno”) brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the final decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under the Social Security Act (the “Act”). Both parties have filed summary judgment motions (Docs. #15, 20), which have been referred to this Court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that substantial evidence supports the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) conclusion that Amennuno is not disabled under the Act. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #20) be GRANTED, Amennuno's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #15) be DENIED, and that, pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the ALJ's decision be AFFIRMED.

         II. REPORT

         A. Procedural History

         On March 27, 2014, Amennuno filed an application for DIB, alleging disability as of November 12, 2011.[1] (Tr. 164-67). This application was denied initially on April 25, 2014. (Tr. 105-09). Amennuno filed a timely request for an administrative hearing, which was held on July 16, 2015, before ALJ David Neumann. (Tr. 29-71). Amennuno, who was represented by attorney Elizabeth Blount, testified at the hearing, as did vocational expert Harry Cynowa. (Id.). On January 22, 2016, the ALJ issued a written decision finding that Amennuno is not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 15-24). On February 3, 2017, the Appeals Council denied review. (Tr. 1-5). Amennuno timely filed for judicial review of the final decision on March 23, 2017. (Doc. #1).

         B. Framework for Disability Determinations

         Under the Act, DIB are available only for those who have a “disability.” See Colvin v.Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). The Act defines “disability” as 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). The Commissioner's regulations provide that a disability is to be determined through the application of a five-step sequential analysis:

Step One: If the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity, benefits are denied without further analysis.
Step Two: If the claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments that “significantly limits . . . physical or mental ability to do basic work activities, ” benefits are denied without further analysis.
Step Three: If the claimant is not performing substantial gainful activity, has a severe impairment that is expected to last for at least twelve months, and the severe impairment meets or equals one of the impairments listed in the regulations, the claimant is conclusively presumed to be disabled regardless of age, education, or work experience.
Step Four: If the claimant is able to perform his or her past relevant work, benefits are denied ...

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