United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable George Caram Steeh J.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [11, 13]
R. GRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Shawn Marie Huntington (“Huntington”) brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the
final decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under the
Social Security Act (the “Act”). Both parties
have filed summary judgment motions (Docs. #11, #13), 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 the
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) conclusion
that Huntington is not disabled under the Act is not
supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court
recommends that the Commissioner's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. #13) be
DENIED, Huntington's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. #11) be GRANTED IN
PART to the extent it seeks remand and
DENIED IN PART to the extent it seeks an
award of benefits, and that, pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), this case be REMANDED
to the ALJ for further proceedings consistent with this
was 45 years old at the time of her alleged onset date of
June 9, 2015, and at 5'4” tall weighed
approximately 125 pounds during the relevant time period.
(Tr. 159, 176). She completed high school but had no college
education. (Tr. 177). She worked consistently, first as a
personal trainer and then as a shift manager at a grocery
store, before she suffered a back injury at work in June of
2015. (Tr. 28-29, 38, 177, 191). She now alleges disability
primarily as a result of ongoing back pain, as well as
depression and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 38, 176).
Huntington's application for DIB was denied at the
initial level on May 16, 2017 (Tr. 70-77), she timely
requested an administrative hearing, which was held before
ALJ Crystal White-Simmons on December 11, 2017 (Tr. 24-52).
Huntington, who was represented by attorney Charles Palmer,
testified at the hearing, as did vocational expert
(“VE”) Zachary Matthews. (Id.). On
January 29, 2018, the ALJ issued a written decision finding
that Huntington is not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 10-20).
On April 17, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review. (Tr.
1-5). Huntington timely filed for judicial review of the
final decision on June 12, 2018. (Doc. #1).
Court has thoroughly reviewed the transcript in this matter,
including Huntington's medical record, Function and
Disability Reports, and testimony as to her 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 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). The
Commissioner's regulations provide that a disability is
to be determined through the application of a five-step
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 presumed to be
disabled regardless of age, education, or work experience.
Step Four: If the claimant is able to perform his or her past
relevant work, benefits are denied without further analysis.
Step Five: Even if the claimant is unable to perform his or
her past relevant work, if other work exists in the national
economy that the claimant can perform, in view of his or her