United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HONORABLE DAVID M. LAWSON MAGISTRATE JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [10, 11]
R. GRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Enoch Edwards (“Edwards”) 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. #10, 11), which
have been referred to this Court for a Report and
Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that substantial
evidence supports the Administrative Law Judge's
(“ALJ”) conclusion that Edwards is not disabled
under the Act. Accordingly, the Court
RECOMMENDS that the Commissioner's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #11) be
GRANTED, Edwards' Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. #10) be
DENIED, and that pursuant to sentence four
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the ALJ's decision be
filed prior applications for DIB and SSI on July 9, 2010.
(Tr. 12). On January 23, 2012, ALJ G.B. Arthur issued a
written decision denying those applications. (Tr. 74-80).
then filed new applications for DIB and SSI on October 21,
2014, alleging disability as of April 26, 2014. (Tr. 168-80).
At the time of that alleged onset date, Edwards was 52 years
old. (Tr. 197). He had completed high school but had no
further education. (Tr. 33, 203). Edwards has prior work
history as a security guard, laborer, and parking lot
attendant, but he stopped working in April 2014 because of
his medical conditions. (Tr. 33-35, 202-03). He alleges
disability primarily as a result of back pain,
depression/paranoia, and drug addiction/alcoholism (both of
which are in remission). (Tr. 37-38, 42, 202).
Edwards' 2014 applications for DIB and SSI were denied at
the initial level on December 2, 2014 (Tr. 108-15), he timely
requested an administrative hearing, which was held on March
22, 2016, before ALJ Ramona Fernandez (Tr. 28-60). Edwards,
who was represented by attorney Karen Morgan, testified at
the hearing, as did vocational expert LuAnn Castellana.
(Id.). On September 8, 2016, the ALJ issued a
written decision finding that Edwards is not disabled under
the Act. (Tr. 10-22). On September 1, 2017, the Appeals
Council denied review. (Tr. 1-5). Edwards timely filed for
judicial review of the final decision on October 5, 2017.
Court has thoroughly reviewed the transcript in this matter,
including Edwards' medical record, Function and
Disability Reports, and testimony as to his conditions and
resulting limitations. Instead of summarizing that
information here, the Court will make references and provide
citations to the transcript as necessary in its discussion of
the parties' arguments.
The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework
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 a 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
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 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 ...