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Rawski v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 13, 2018

SUSAN RAWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Nancy G. Edmunds Magistrate Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Susan Rawski seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's determination that she is not entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act. (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 17). This matter has been referred to the undersigned for determination of all non-dispositive motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and issuance of a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). (Docket no. 4.) Having reviewed the pleadings, the Court dispenses with a hearing pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2) and issues this Report and Recommendation.

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14) be DENIED, that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 17) be GRANTED, and that the case be dismissed in its entirety.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 19, 2014, Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), alleging that she has been disabled since April 16, 2014. (TR 107.) The Social Security Administration initially denied Plaintiff's claims on April 17, 2015. (TR 66.) On August 25, 2016, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Dawn Gruenburg. (TR 24-51.) On September 29, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's claims. (TR 10-20.) Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals Council, which was denied on April 18, 2017. (TR 1-3.) On June 20, 2017, Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review, and the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the Court. (Docket no. 14; docket no. 17.)

         III. HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE

         Plaintiff sets forth a brief procedural history of this matter as well as a short summary of her medical issues. (Docket no. 14, pp. 4-9.) In addition, the ALJ summarized Plaintiff's testimony and medical record (TR 15-18), and Defendant provided its own summary of Plaintiff's medical condition (docket no. 17, pp. 4-6). Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies among these recitations of the record. Therefore, in lieu of re-summarizing this information, the undersigned will incorporate the above-cited factual recitations by reference and will also refer to the record as necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         IV. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DETERMINATION

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through the date of the decision, and also determined that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity since April 16, 2014, the alleged onset date. (TR 15.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and joint disease of the lumbar spine. (Id.) Nevertheless, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Id. at 17.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) with the following limitations:

• Plaintiff must use a cane to ambulate and balance;
• Plaintiff can sit for one hour and then stand for 20 minutes at 20 ...

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