United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
CHRISTOPHER A. PEAK, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
HONORABLE THOMAS L. LUDINGTON, JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [19, 21]
R. GRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Christopher Peak (âPeakâ) brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. Â§ 405(g), challenging the final decision of Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (âCommissionerâ) denying his
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (âDIBâ) and
Supplemental Security Income (âSSIâ) under the Social
Security Act (the âActâ). Both parties have filed summary
judgment motions (Docs. #19, #21), which have been referred
to this Court for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28
U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(B).
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) conclusion
that Peak 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. #21) be DENIED,
Peak's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
#19) 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 Recommendation.
was 33 years old at the time of his alleged onset date of
April 23, 2015, and at 6' tall weighed approximately
150 pounds during the relevant time period. (Tr. 186, 190).
He completed high school but had no further education. (Tr.
40, 191). He worked in sales for an auto parts retailer, but
stopped working in April 2015 because of back pain, neck
pain, and headaches. (Tr. 39, 43, 196). He now alleges
disability primarily as a result of these conditions. (Tr.
Peak's applications for DIB and SSI were denied at the
initial level (Tr. 77-93), he timely requested an
administrative hearing, which was held on April 11, 2017,
before ALJ Timothy Christensen (Tr. 33-54). Peak, who was
represented by Dannelly Smith, testified at the hearing, as
did vocational expert Scott Silver. (Id.). On August
9, 2017, the ALJ issued a written decision finding that Peak
is not disabled under the Act. (Tr. 20-28). On January 29,
2018, the Appeals Council denied review. (Tr. 1-5). Peak
timely filed for judicial review of the final decision on
April 10, 2018. (Doc. #1).
Court has thoroughly reviewed the transcript in this matter,
including Peak'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'
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 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 ...