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Sims v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 25, 2018

Michael Sims, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.




         Plaintiff Michael Sims seeks judicial review of the decision of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying his application for disability benefits. Plaintiff, through counsel, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [14] on October 19, 2017. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [15] on October 27, 2017. On June 28, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation [16] (“R&R”) recommending that the Court grant Defendant's Motion and deny Plaintiff's Motion. Plaintiff filed an Objection to the R&R [17] on July 7, 2018. Defendant filed a Reply [18] on July 9, 2018.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS the R&R [16]. Plaintiff's Objection [17] is OVERRULED. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [15] is GRANTED. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [14] is DENIED.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The Magistrate Judge summarized the record as follows:

         II. Procedural History

Plaintiff protectively filed an application for supplemental security income on June 19, 2014, alleging that he has been disabled since September 1, 2010, due to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a closed head injury, and depression. The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's claims on October 22, 2014, and Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing. On March 1, 2016, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at the hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Joy A. Turner. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on April 7, 2016, and the Appeals Council declined to review the decision. Plaintiff then commenced this action for judicial review, and the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the Court.

         III. Hearing Testimony and Medical Evidence

In his brief, Plaintiff sets forth the procedural history of this matter and provides a brief “Statement of Relevant Facts, ” which primarily consists of a summary of the ALJ's decision. The ALJ summarized Plaintiff's hearing testimony, Plaintiff's medical record, and the vocational expert's (VE's) testimony in her decision. Defendant adopts the ALJ's recitation of the facts. Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies between 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 make references and citations to the record as necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         IV. Administrative Law Judge's Determination

The ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date of June 19, 2014, and that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of HIV, fractures of left upper extremity, intracranial injury, seizure disorder, and affective disorder. Additionally, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. The ALJ then found that Plaintiff had the following residual functional capacity (RFC):
[C]laimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except [he] can occasionally climb stairs and ramps; cannot climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; and can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant needs to avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, heat, wetness, humidity, and needs to avoid all exposure to pulmonary irritants, hazardous machinery, and unprotected heights. The claimant is limited to simple, routine tasks with occasional interaction with [the] public, co-workers and supervisors.
Subsequently, in reliance on the VE's testimony, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing a significant number of jobs in the national economy. Therefore, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act at any ...

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