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Hill v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

January 19, 2018

WILLIAM A. HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [16], GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [19], AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          DAVID R. GRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Background

         Plaintiff William A. Hill (“Hill”) brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the final decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the Social Security Act (the “Act”). Both parties have filed summary judgment motions. (Docs. #16, 19). On April 24, 2017, the parties consented to the undersigned's authority to conduct all proceedings and enter a final judgment. (Docs. #11, 12). A hearing was held on January 18, 2018, where Hill's counsel appeared in person, while the Commissioner's counsel appeared by telephone.

         Hill alleges disability as a result of various physical and mental impairments. Administrative Law Judge David A. Mason, Jr. (the “ALJ”) found that Hill suffers from the following severe impairments: sarcoidosis, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, intellectual disability/mild mental retardation, asthma, left ear hearing loss, posttraumatic stress disorder, antisocial personality disorder, history of polysubstance dependence in full remission, and an affective disorder. (Tr. 14). The ALJ ultimately determined that Hill retains the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a limited range of light work that is simple, routine, and repetitive in nature, free of fast-paced production requirements, and involving only simple work-related decisions with few, if any, workplace changes. (Tr. 16). The ALJ then found that because Hill is capable of performing a significant number of jobs that exist in the national economy, he is not disabled. (Tr. 22).

         On appeal to this Court, Hill raises only one argument: that the ALJ erred in finding that he does not meet or medically equal Listing 12.05B. (Doc. #16 at 13-19).

         II. Applicable Legal Standards

         Under the Act, DIB and SSI 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), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Commissioner's regulations provide that 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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