United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
NICOLE J. GETZ, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Honorable Stephen J. Murphy, III
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NOS. 17, 20]
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Nicole Getz appeals a final decision of defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying her
application for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the
Social Security Act. Both parties have filed summary judgment
motions, referred to this Court for a report and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
After review of the record, the Court finds that the
administrative law judge's (ALJ) decision is supported by
substantial evidence, and thus RECOMMENDS
• Getz's motion [ECF No. 17] be
• the Commissioner's motion [ECF No. 20] be
• the ALJ's decision be AFFIRMED
pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Background and Disability Applications
was born on January 21, 1981, making her 34 years old on her
alleged onset date of March 27, 2015. [ECF No. 13-2, Tr. 12;
ECF No. 13-5, Tr. 137]. She has past work as a packer and as
a kitchen helper. [ECF No. 13-2, Tr. 19; ECF No. 13-6, Tr.
168]. Getz alleged disability from a back injury, shoulder
pain and irritable bowel syndrome. [ECF No. 13-3, Tr. 55].
the Commissioner denied her disability application initially,
Getz requested a hearing,  which took place in July 2017, and
during which she and a vocational expert (VE) testified. [ECF
No. 13-2, Tr. 33-54]. In a November 2017 written decision,
the ALJ found Getz not disabled. [Id., Tr. 10-21].
The Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner, and Getz
timely filed for judicial review. [Id., Tr. 1-3; ECF
The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework
“disability” is 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).
Commissioner determines whether an applicant is disabled by
analyzing five sequential steps. First, if the applicant is
“doing substantial gainful activity, ” he or she
will be found not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4).
Second, if the claimant has not had a severe impairment or a
combination of such impairments for a continuous period of at
least 12 months, no disability will be found. Id.
Third, if the claimant's severe impairments meet or equal
the criteria of an impairment set forth in the
Commissioner's Listing of Impairments, the claimant will
be found disabled. Id. If the fourth step is
reached, the Commissioner considers its assessment of the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC), and will
find the claimant not disabled if he or she can still do past
relevant work. Id. At the final step, the
Commissioner reviews the claimant's RFC, age, education
and work experiences, and determines whether the claimant
could adjust to other work. Id. The claimant bears
the burden of proof throughout the first four steps, but the
burden shifts to the Commissioner if the fifth step is
reached. Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
this framework, the ALJ concluded that Getz was not disabled.
At the first step, he found that Getz had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date.
[ECF No. 13-2, Tr. 12]. At the second step, the ALJ found
that Getz had the severe impairments of degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine with herniated nucleus pulpous
and spondylolisthesis, status post-surgery; palpitations;
migraines; tendonitis; degenerative joint disease of the
acromioclavicular joint; restless leg syndrome and irritable
bowel syndrome. [Id., Tr. 13]. Next, the ...