United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
Bernard A. Friedman Senior United States District Judge
matter is presently before the Court on defendant's
motion for summary judgment [docket entry 20]. Pursuant to E.D.
Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2), the Court shall decide this motion
without a hearing.
has brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
challenge defendant's final decision denying his
applications for Supplemental Security Income and Social
Security disability insurance benefits. An Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing in January 2013 (Tr.
68-104) and issued a decision denying benefits in February
2013 (Tr. 132-43). In May 2014, the Appeals Council vacated
the ALJ's decision and remanded for further proceedings
(Tr. 148-52). Another ALJ held a second hearing in March 2015
(Tr. 31-67) and issued a decision denying benefits in April
2015 (Tr. 13-25). This became defendant's final decision
in June 2016 when the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review (Tr. 1-3).
§ 405(g), the issue before the Court is whether the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence. As
the Sixth Circuit has explained, the Court
must affirm the Commissioner's findings if they are
supported by substantial evidence and the Commissioner
employed the proper legal standard. White, 572 F.3d
at 281 (citing 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)); Elam ex rel.
Golay v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 348 F.3d 124, 125 (6th
Cir. 2003); Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127
F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (internal quotation marks
omitted); see also Kyle, 609 F.3d at 854 (quoting
Lindsley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.3d 601,
604 (6th Cir. 2009)). Where the Commissioner's decision
is supported by substantial evidence, it must be upheld even
if the record might support a contrary conclusion. Smith
v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 893 F.2d 106,
108 (6th Cir. 1989). However, a substantiality of evidence
evaluation does not permit a selective reading of the record.
“Substantiality of the evidence must be based upon the
record taken as a whole. Substantial evidence is not simply
some evidence, or even a great deal of evidence. Rather, the
substantiality of evidence must take into account whatever in
the record fairly detracts from its weight.” Garner
v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 388 (6th Cir. 1984) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted).
Brooks v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 531 F. App'x
636, 640-41 (6th Cir. 2013).
time of the ALJ's decision, plaintiff was 57 years old
(Tr. 36). He has a high school education (Tr. 81) and work
experience as a dishwasher and as a foreman at a meat-packing
plant (Tr. 83-87, 99, 395). Plaintiff claims he has been
disabled since May 2010 due pain in his lower back and right
knee (Tr. 39, 88). The ALJ found that plaintiff's severe
impairments are “degenerative disc disease and rotary
scoliosis of the lumbar spine; degenerative disc disease of
the cervical spine; and chondromalacia of the right
knee” (Tr. 20). He found that plaintiff is not disabled
because he can perform his past work as a dishwasher and
“foreman-packer, ” as this work is within
plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to do a limited range of medium work (Tr.
reviewed the administrative record and the brief in support
of defendant's summary judgment motion, the Court finds
that the ALJ's decision in this matter is supported by
substantial evidence. “The burden is on the plaintiff
to prove that he is disabled within the meaning of the
regulations, ” Hernandez v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 644 F. App'x 468, 473 (6th Cir. 2016), and
plaintiff has not met this burden.
ALJ correctly noted, the record shows that plaintiff has
degenerative disc disease in his lumbar and cervical spine
and chondromalacia in his right knee (Tr. 434, 436, 457, 490,
560, 631). However, substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's conclusion that these impairments do not prevent
plaintiff from meeting the exertional demands of his past
work. Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Shelby-Lane, M.D., at
defendant's request in July 2014 (Tr. 616-30). She
concluded that while plaintiff “has chronic lower back
pain for which he needs ongoing management, ” and while
he “may have difficulty with repetitive and heavy
bending, pushing, pulling and lifting” he nonetheless
can lift up to 50 pounds occasionally; carry up to 20 pounds
occasionally; and sit, stand, and walk up to six hours in an
eight-hour work day (Tr. 619, 625-26). The ALJ was entitled
to rely on Dr. Shelby-Lane's assessment of
plaintiff's condition, limitations, and abilities, as it
is consistent with the objective findings and not
contradicted by any other physician's
short, the medical evidence in this case supports the
ALJ's finding that plaintiff is capable of performing his
past work as a dishwasher and as a foreman-packer. A claimant
who can perform his past work is not disabled under the
Social Security Act. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that
defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.
Plaintiff has declined the
Court's invitation to file such a motion. See