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Curry v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 6, 2019

TRACIE RENEE CURRY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Thomas L. Ludington District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Tracie Renee Curry seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's determination that she is not entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act. (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 12) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15). This matter has been referred to the undersigned for determination of all non-dispositive motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and issuance of a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). (Docket no. 3.) Having reviewed the pleadings, the Court dispenses with a hearing pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2) and issues this Report and Recommendation.

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 12) be DENIED, that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15) be GRANTED, and that the case be dismissed in its entirety.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) on July 2, 2015, alleging that she has been disabled since March 15, 2014. (TR 176-79.) The Social Security Administration initially denied Plaintiff's claims on September 30, 2015. (TR 57-63.) On February 7, 2017, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Anthony R. Smereka. (TR 31-56.)

         On May 1, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's claims. (TR 12- 26.) Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council, which was denied on February 28, 2018. (TR 1-3.) On April 13, 2018, Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review. (Docket no. 1.) The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the Court. (Docket no. 12; docket no. 15.)

         III. HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE

         Plaintiff sets forth a brief procedural history of this matter as well as a short summary of her medical issues. (Docket no. 12, pp. 4-7.) In addition, the ALJ summarized Plaintiff's medical record (TR 18-24), and Defendant adopted the ALJ's recitation of the facts (docket no. 15, p. 4). Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies among 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 refer to the record as necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         IV. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DETERMINATION

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity since July 2, 2015, the application date. (TR 17.) In addition, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; cervical dystonia with tremor; arthritis of the knees; obstructive sleep apnea; hypertension; depression; personality disorder; and obesity.” (Id.) Nevertheless, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 18.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a), subject to the following non-exertional limitations:

■ Plaintiff cannot work with hazards, including work at unprotected heights or around ...

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