United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Gershwin A. Drain
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF. NOS. 10, 13]
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Todd Thurston appeals a final decision of defendant
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying his
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 under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The Court
• Thurston's motion [ECF No. 10] be
• the Commissioner's motion [ECF No. 13] be
• the ALJ's decision be AFFIRMED
under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Background and Disability Application
December 15, 1963, Thurston was 51 years old on the date of
application, and he alleged an onset date of July 15, 2014.
[ECF No. 8-5, Tr. 152-54]. His last insured date was March
31, 2016. [ECF No. 8-2, Tr. 33]. He has a high school diploma
and has past relevant work as an auto mechanic and delivery
route driver. [Id., Tr. 35, 38-39]. Thurston claimed
disability from chronic left shoulder pain post clavicle
fracture, degenerative disc disease with narrowing of the
cervical spine, multilevel narrowing and degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, and depression. [ECF No. 8-6,
hearing in October 2017, during which Thurston and a
vocational expert (VE) testified, the ALJ found him not
disabled. [ECF No. 8-2, Tr. 32-63]. The Appeals Council
denied review, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. [Id., Tr. 1-3].
Thurston timely filed for judicial review. [ECF No. 1].
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 Thurston was not
disabled. At the first step, he found that Thurston had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity from his alleged
onset date to his last insured date. [ECF No. 8-2, Tr. 12].
At the second step, he found that Thurston had the severe
impairments of “degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
and cervical spine; left clavicle fracture, status post ORIF;
left scapular fracture; and COPD.” [Id., Tr.
12]. Next, the ALJ concluded ...