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Mydarlz v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

December 12, 2017

DAVID MYDLARZ, [1] Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [14], GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [13], AND REMANDING THE CASE TO THE ALJ FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          DAVID R. GRAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff David Mydlarz (“Mydlarz”) 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. #13, #14). On February 23, 2017, the parties consented to the undersigned's authority to conduct all proceedings and enter a final judgment. (Doc. #8). A hearing was held on December 12, 2017, where counsel for both parties appeared by telephone.

         Mydlarz alleges disability as a result of various conditions, and Administrative Law Judge Kari Deming (the “ALJ”) found that Mydlarz suffers from the following severe impairments: insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus with neuropathy and retinopathy; scoliosis with lumbago (i.e., with back pain) and a single level (L4-L5 disc bulge); depressive disorder; anxiety disorder; and insomnia. (Tr. 18). The ALJ ultimately determined that Mydlarz retains the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with additional exertional and non-exertional limitations, including being able to change from sitting to standing every 45 minutes; no more than frequently balancing and stooping, and occasionally climbing, kneeling, crawling, and crouching; no exposure to workplace hazards or environmental conditions like extreme heat, cold, humidity, etc.; engage in simple, routine tasks that are goal-oriented, rather than production-paced; and engage in no more than frequent interaction with the public, co-workers, and supervisors. (Tr. 21). The ALJ then found that because a substantial number of jobs exist in the national economy that could be performed by a person with this RFC, Mydlarz is not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 25-26).

         Mydlarz's appeal to this Court followed, and he argues that the ALJ erred in failing to adequately discuss the medical record, make a credibility determination, and support the RFC with record evidence.

         II. Applicable Legal Standards

         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 without further analysis.
Step Five: Even if the claimant is unable to perform his or her past relevant work, if other work exists in the national economy that the claimant can perform, in view of his or her age, ...

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