United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(Dkt. 11, 17)
Stephanie Dawkins Davis, United States Magistrate Judge.
Proceedings in this Court
October 25, 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 Thomas L. Ludington referred this
matter to the undersigned magistrate judge for the purpose of
reviewing the Commissioner's decision denying
plaintiff's claims. (Dkt. 2). On February 2, 2017, the
parties filed a notice of consent to this Magistrate
Judge's authority, which was signed by Judge Ludington on
February 6, 2017. (Dkt. 13, 14). The matter is before the
Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. (Dkt. 11, 17,
18). A hearing on the cross- motions for summary judgment was
held on December 5, 2017, pursuant to notice. (Dkt. 19).
September 27, 2013, plaintiff filed claims for period of
disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging
disability beginning May 1, 2010. (Tr. 189). Plaintiff
amended the alleged onset date to September 7, 2013. (Tr.
15). The Commissioner initially denied plaintiff's
disability application on January 24, 2014. Id.
Thereafter, plaintiff requested an administrative hearing,
and on February 18, 2015, he appeared with counsel before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Anthony M.
Smereka, who considered his case de novo. (Tr.
27-63). In an October 8, 2015 decision, the ALJ determined
that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the
Social Security Act. (Tr. 12-22). The ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner on September
22, 2016, when the Social Security Administration's
Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review.
reasons set forth below, the undersigned
DENIES plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment, GRANTS defendant's motion for
summary judgment, and AFFIRMS the findings
of the Commissioner.
was 55 years old, placing him in the “advanced
age” category, on the date he filed his application.
(Tr. 21). Plaintiff has past relevant work as a sales person,
which is skilled and medium as performed. Id.
Plaintiff suffers from abdominal pain, obesity, congestive
heart failure, atrial fibrillation, obstructive sleep apnea,
and diverticulitis. (Tr. 17). The ALJ applied the five-step
disability analysis to plaintiff's claims and found at
step one that plaintiff did not engage in any substantial
gainful activity since the application date. (Tr. 17). At
step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the following
severe impairments: status post hernia repair and obesity.
Id. The ALJ found the remainder of plaintiff's
impairments to be non-severe.
three, the ALJ found that plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or equaled
one of the listings in the regulations. Id. at
17-18. The ALJ assessed plaintiff's residual functional
capacity (RFC) as follows:
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c) except the
claimant must avoid exposure to workplace hazards (e.g.
unprotected heights or around dangerous moving machinery).
The claimant cannot climb ladders/ropes/scaffolds; can
occasionally climb ramps/stairs; can frequently balance,
kneel, crouch, and crawl.
Id. at 18. At step four, the ALJ determined that
plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as a sales
person. Id. at 20-21. In the alternative, at step
five, the ALJ found that, given plaintiff's age,
education, work experience and RFC, a significant number of
jobs exists in the national economy that plaintiff is capable
of performing. Id. at 21-22. Therefore, the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff has not been under a disability from
the application date through the date of the decision.
Id. at 22.