United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
H. CLELAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (DKT. 13, 16)
STEPHANIE DAWKINS DAVIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Proceedings in this Court
September 23, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant suit seeking
judicial review of the Commissioner's decision
disallowing social security disability benefits. (Dkt. 1).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule
72.1(b)(3), District Judge Robert H. Cleland referred this
matter to the undersigned for the purpose of reviewing the
Commissioner's decision denying plaintiff's
disability claim. (Dkt. 2). This matter is before the Court
on cross-motions for summary judgment. (Dkt. 13, 16).
Plaintiff also filed a reply in support her motion for
summary judgment. (Dkt. 21). The cross-motions are now ready
for report and recommendation.
filed the instant claim for supplemental security income on
September 30, 2013, alleging disability beginning January 3,
2013. (Tr. 20).Plaintiff's claim is based on the
combined effects of bi-polar disorder with manic episodes,
anxiety/depression and suicidal ideation. The claim was
initially disapproved by the Commissioner on October 14,
2013. Id. Plaintiff requested a hearing, and on
January 28, 2016, he appeared before ALJ Patricia E. Hurt who
considered the case de novo. (Tr. 37-112). In a
decision dated May 3, 2016, the ALJ found that plaintiff was
not disabled. (Tr. 17-31). Plaintiff requested a review of
this decision and on July 27, 2016, the ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner when, after the
review of additional exhibits,  the Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-6); Wilson v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 543-44 (6th Cir.
reasons set forth below, the undersigned
RECOMMENDS that plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment be DENIED, that
defendant's motion for summary judgment be
GRANTED, and that the findings of the
Commissioner be AFFIRMED.
was born in 1967 and was 46 years old on the application
date. (Tr. 30). Plaintiff has no past relevant work history.
(Tr. 30). The ALJ applied the five-step disability analysis
to plaintiff's claim and found at step one that plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the
alleged onset date. (Tr. 22). At step two, the ALJ found that
plaintiff's bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress
disorder, anti-social personality disorder, and cannabis
abuse were severe impairments. Id. At step three,
the ALJ found that plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a
Listing. (Tr. 23-25). The ALJ determined that plaintiff had
the following residual functional capacity (RFC):
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the
following nonexertional limitations: he is limited to
performing only simple, routine, and repetitive tasks. He
cannot perform tasks at a production rate pace, meaning he
cannot perform assembly line work. He can make only simple
work-related decisions. He can interact frequently with
supervisors, occasionally with coworkers, and never with the
public. He can tolerate few changes in the routine work
setting, meaning he must work in the same place doing the
same thing every day, any any changes to his work setting
must be minimal and introduced gradually over time.
(Tr. 25). At step four, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff had
no past relevant work. (Tr. 30). At step five, the ALJ denied
plaintiff benefits because plaintiff could perform a
significant number of jobs available in the national economy.
Standard of Review
Court has original jurisdiction to review the
Commissioner's final administrative decision pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Judicial review under this statute
is limited in that the court “must affirm the
Commissioner's conclusions absent a determination that
the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal
standard or has made findings of fact unsupported by
substantial evidence in the record.” Longworth v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir.
2005); Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d
525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). In deciding whether substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's decision, “we do not
try the case de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or
decide questions of credibility.” Bass v.
McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2007); Garner
v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 387 (6th Cir. 1984). “It
is of course for the ALJ, and not the reviewing court, to
evaluate the credibility of witnesses, including that of the
claimant.” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
486 F.3d 234, 247 (6th Cir. 2007). “However, the ALJ is
not free to make credibility determinations based solely upon
an ‘intangible or intuitive notion about an
individual's credibility.'” Rogers,
486 F.3d at 247, quoting Soc. Sec. Rul. 96-7p, 1996 WL
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
findings of fact are conclusive. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Therefore, this Court may not reverse the Commissioner's
decision merely because it disagrees or because “there
exists in the record substantial evidence to support a
different conclusion.” McClanahan v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 833 (6th Cir. 2006); Mullen
v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986) (en
banc). Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Rogers, 486
F.3d at 241; Jones, 336 F.3d at 475. “The
substantial evidence standard presupposes that there is a
‘zone of choice' within which the Commissioner may
proceed without interference from the courts.”
Felisky v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027, 1035 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted), citing Mullen, 800 F.2d at 545.
Commissioner's regulations provide that disability is to
be determined through the application of a five-step
Step One: If the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity, benefits are denied without further
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
Step Three: If plaintiff 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 plaintiff can perform, in view of his or her
age, education, and work experience, benefits are denied.
Carpenter v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2008 WL
4793424 (E.D. Mich. 2008), citing, 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520, 416.920; Heston, 245 F.3d at 534.
“If the Commissioner makes a dispositive finding at any
point in the five-step process, the ...