Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Vucinaj v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

May 2, 2019

ANTON VUCINAJ, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Honorable George Caram Steeh, Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [19, 20]

          David R. Grand, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Anton Vucinaj (“Vucinaj”) 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. #19, #20), which have been referred to this Court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that substantial evidence supports the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) conclusion that Vucinaj is not disabled under the Act. Accordingly, the Court RECOMMENDS that the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #20) be GRANTED, Vucinaj's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #19) be DENIED, and that pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the ALJ's decision be AFFIRMED.

         II. REPORT

         A. Background

         Vucinaj was 39 years old at the time of his alleged onset date of July 7, 2011, and at 5'9” tall weighed approximately 260 pounds during the relevant time period. (Tr. 37, 277, 281). He completed high school but had no further education. (Tr. 37, 282). He has previous employment as a laborer and production worker, but he stopped working in July 2011 after injuring his back at work. (Tr. 43, 281-83, 318). He has since undergone two back surgeries, and he now alleges disability primarily as a result of continued back pain, as well as anxiety and depression. (Tr. 43, 281).

         After Vucinaj's applications for DIB and SSI were denied at the initial level (Tr. 149-53, 166-70), he timely requested an administrative hearing, which was held on November 6, 2017, before ALJ Kari Deming (Tr. 30-54). Vucinaj, who was represented by attorney Adam Banton, testified at the hearing, as did vocational expert Beth Pasikowski. (Id.). On March 9, 2018, the ALJ issued a written decision finding that Vucinaj is not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 11-23). On July 31, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review. (Tr. 1-6). Vucinaj timely filed for judicial review of the final decision on September 14, 2018. (Doc. #1).

         The Court has thoroughly reviewed the transcript in this matter, including Vucinaj's 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.

         B. The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework Analysis

         Under 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 analysis.
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 analysis.
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 age, education, and work experience, benefits are denied.

Scheuneman v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 11-10593, 2011 WL 6937331, at *7 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 6, 2011) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520); see also Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir. 2001). “The burden of proof is on the claimant throughout the first four steps …. If the analysis reaches the fifth step without a finding that claimant is not disabled, the burden transfers to the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.