United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Gershwin A. Drain, Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [11, 13]
R. GRAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Terrie Beavers (“Beavers”) brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the final
decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her 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. #11, #13), which
have been referred to this Court for a Report and
Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that substantial
evidence supports the Administrative Law Judge's
(“ALJ”) conclusion that Beavers is not disabled
under the Act. Accordingly, the Court
RECOMMENDS that the Commissioner's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #13) be
GRANTED, Beavers's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. #11) be
DENIED, and that pursuant to sentence four
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the ALJ's decision be
was 60 years old at the time of her alleged onset date of May
14, 2015, and at 5'5” tall weighed approximately
260 pounds during the relevant time period. (Tr. 51, 71). She
reported previous work in “follow up,
” and a tax preparer for H&R Block. (Tr.
45-48, 81). She alleges disability primarily as a result of
type I diabetes, right leg vein issues, left hand issues,
high blood pressure, and a blood disorder. (Tr. 71).
Beavers's applications for DIB and SSI were denied at the
initial level on June 3, 2016 (Tr. 83), she timely requested
an administrative hearing, which was held on August 2, 2017
before ALJ Therese Tobin. (Tr. 39). Beavers, who was
represented by attorney Larry R. Maitland, II, testified at
the hearing, as did vocational expert Zachary Matthews. (Tr.
39-68). On December 4, 2017, the ALJ issued a written
decision finding that Beavers is not disabled under the Act.
(Tr. 28-34). On April 13, 2018, the Appeals Council denied
review. (Tr. 1-3). Beavers timely filed for
judicial review of the final decision on May 30, 2018. (Doc.
Court has thoroughly reviewed the transcript in this matter,
including Beavers's medical record, function and
disability reports, and testimony as to her 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.
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 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., 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 [defendant].” Preslar v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th
this five-step sequential analysis, the ALJ found that
Beavers is not disabled under the Act. At Step One, the ALJ
found that Beavers has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 14, 2015 (the alleged onset date). (Tr.
30). At Step Two, the ALJ found that she has the severe
impairments of status-post bilateral knee arthroplasty
surgeries, bilateral leg vein obstruction, bilateral plantar
fasciitis, left thumb arthritis, history of brain tumor,
diabetes, hypertension, anemia, dyslipidemia, and obesity.
(Id.). At Step Three, the ALJ found that
Beavers's impairments, whether considered alone or in
combination, do not meet or medically equal a listed
impairment. (Tr. 31).
then assessed Beavers's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), concluding that she is capable of
performing sedentary work, with the following additional
limitations: Beavers would require a sit or stand option
without disturbing the workplace, she would require an
assistive device to ambulate during the workday, she could
never kneel, crouch, crawl, or climb ladders ropes, or
scaffolds. She could occasionally climb ramps or stairs, she