United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
KENT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security Administration (Commissioner)
which issued a partially favorable decision for disability
insurance benefits (DIB) claim.
alleged a disability onset date of September 15, 2012 when
she was involved in a motor vehicle accident. PageID.49, 233.
Plaintiff identified her disabling conditions as: blind; left
knee injury; left arm injury; and right foot injury.
PageID.237. Prior to applying for DIB, plaintiff completed
the 12th grade and had past employment as a call center
representative, customer service representative, and
receptionist. PageID.238. An administrative law judge (ALJ)
reviewed plaintiff's claim de novo and entered a
partially favorable written decision on January 27, 2016.
PageID.44-55. In this decision, the ALJ found that plaintiff
was under a disability, as defined by the Social Security
Act, from September 15, 2012 through October 8, 2015.
PageID.48. Plaintiff contests the ALJ's finding that her
disability ended on October 8, 2015. This decision, which was
later approved by the Appeals Council, has become the final
decision of the Commissioner and is now before the Court for
Court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
typically focused on determining whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); McKnight v.
Sullivan, 927 F.2d 241 (6th Cir. 1990).
“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.” Cutlip v. Secretary of
Health & Human Services, 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir.
1994). A determination of substantiality of the evidence must
be based upon the record taken as a whole. Young v.
Secretary of Health & Human Services, 925 F.2d 146
(6th Cir. 1990).
scope of this review is limited to an examination of the
record only. This Court does not review the evidence de novo,
make credibility determinations or weigh the evidence.
Brainard v. Secretary of Health & Human
Services, 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989). The fact
that the record also contains evidence which would have
supported a different conclusion does not undermine the
Commissioner's decision so long as there is substantial
support for that decision in the record. Willbanks v.
Secretary of Health & Human Services, 847 F.2d 301,
303 (6th Cir. 1988). Even if the reviewing court would
resolve the dispute differently, the Commissioner's
decision must stand if it is supported by substantial
evidence. Young, 925 F.2d at 147.
claimant must prove that he suffers from a disability in
order to be entitled to benefits. A disability is established
by showing that the claimant cannot engage in 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 twelve months.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505; Abbott v.
Sullivan, 905 F.2d 918, 923 (6th Cir. 1990). In applying
the above standard, the Commissioner has developed a
The Social Security Act requires the Secretary to follow a
“five-step sequential process” for claims of
disability. First, plaintiff must demonstrate that she is not
currently engaged in “substantial gainful
activity” at the time she seeks disability benefits.
Second, plaintiff must show that she suffers from a
“severe impairment” in order to warrant a finding
of disability. A “severe impairment” is one which
“significantly limits . . . physical or mental ability
to do basic work activities.” Third, if plaintiff is
not performing substantial gainful activity, has a severe
impairment that is expected to last for at least twelve
months, and the impairment meets a listed impairment,
plaintiff is presumed to be disabled regardless of age,
education or work experience. Fourth, if the plaintiff's
impairment does not prevent her from doing her past relevant
work, plaintiff is not disabled. For the fifth and final
step, even if the plaintiff's impairment does prevent her
from doing her past relevant work, if other work exists in
the national economy that plaintiff can perform, plaintiff is
Heston v. Commissioner of Social Security, 245 F.3d
528, 534 (6th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted).
claimant bears the burden of proving the existence and
severity of limitations caused by her impairments and the
fact that she is precluded from performing her past relevant
work through step four. Jones v. Commissioner of Social
Security, 336 F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003). However, at
step five of the inquiry, “the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to identify a significant number of jobs in the
economy that accommodate the claimant's residual
functional capacity (determined at step four) and vocational
profile.” Id. If it is determined that a
claimant is or is not disabled at any point in the evaluation
process, further review is not necessary. Mullis
v. Bowen, 861 F.2d 991, 993 (6th Cir. 1988).
Plaintiff's condition from September 15, 2012 through
October 8, 2015
one, the ALJ found that plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since September 15, 2012, the
date she became disabled, and that she meets the insured
status requirements of the Social Security Act through
September 30, 2025. PageID.47.
two, the ALJ found that from September 15, 2012 through
October 8, 2015, the period during which the claimant was
under a disability, the claimant had the following severe
impairments: status post left knee dislocation with knee
reconstruction and ligament and tendon repair surgeries;
status post surgical repair of 1ight foot tendon lacerations;
status post closed reduction of right metatarsal fracture;
status post small bowel resection surgery and repair; status
post right pelvic superior rami fracture; status post scapula
fracture; brachial plexopathy on the left side; blindness in
the right eye; and obesity. PageID.48. At step three, the ALJ
found that from September 15, 2012 through October 8, 2015,
plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the requirements of
the Listing of Impairments in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P,
App. 1. PageID.48.
decided at the fourth step that:
[F]rom September 15, 2012 through October 8, 2015, the
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a
range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) that
includes an ability to lift, carry, push, or pull 10 pounds
occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently; but can only
lift 2 pounds with her non-dominant left upper extremity
alone; stand or walk for 2 hours in an 8-hour workday; sit
for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; never climb ropes, ladders,
or scaffolds; occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; may only occasionally
perform fine manipulation with her left upper extremity, but
has no limitations with fine manipulation with her 1ight
upper extremity; and ...