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Pettway v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 30, 2019

O'SHEA PETTWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Stephen J. Murphy, III United States District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKTS. 16, 17)

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis United States Magistrate Judge.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. Proceedings in this Court On January 26, 2018, plaintiff O'Shea Pettway filed the instant suit. (Dkt. 1). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 72.1(b)(3), District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III, referred this matter to the undersigned for reviewing the Commissioner's unfavorable decision denying Pettway's claim for disability benefits. (Dkt. 3). This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. (Dkt. 16, 17). Pettway also filed a reply in support of her motion for summary judgment. (Dkt. 18).

         B. Administrative Proceedings

         On July 15, 2014, Pettway filed an application for supplemental security income, alleging disability beginning on July 15, 2014. (Tr. 11).[1] The claims were initially disapproved by the Commissioner on October 16, 2014. Id. Pettway requested a hearing and on April 25, 2016, she appeared with counsel before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Therese Tobin, who considered the case de novo. (Tr. 189-226). In a decision dated August 30, 2016, the ALJ found that Pettway was not disabled. (Tr. 8-22). The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council, on November 24, 2017, denied Pettway's request for review. (Tr. 1-7); Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 543-44 (6th Cir. 2004).

         For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be DENIED, that defendant's motion for summary judgment be GRANTED, and that the findings of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.

         II. ALJ FINDINGS

         Pettway was born in 1991 and was 22 years old on the date the application was filed. (Tr. 20). She has a high school education and past relevant work experience as a cashier, which is light and unskilled. (Tr. 20). Pettway claims she is disabled because of her scoliosis and intolerable back pain. (Tr. 198). At the hearing, in addition to discussing back and neck pain, she said that she has bipolar disorder which is being treated with medication and difficulty sleeping because of the pain. (Tr. 193, 199). Following the hearing, the ALJ considered the record evidence within the framework of the five-step disability analysis and found at step one that Pettway had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date. (Tr. 13). At step two, the ALJ found that Pettway's scoliosis was “severe” within the meaning of the second sequential step. Id. The ALJ found that her affective disorder was nonsevere. (Tr. 14). However, at step three, the ALJ found no evidence that Pettway's impairments singly or in combination meet or medically equal one of the listings in the regulations. (Tr. 15).

         Thereafter, the ALJ assessed Pettway's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) as follows:

After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except she needs a sit stand option permitting change in position every 30 minutes if needed and without disturbing the workplace; can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds; occasionally balance; occasionally stoop; never kneel, crouch and crawl; never be exposed to unprotected heights and moving mechanical parts; and never operate a motor vehicle.

(Tr. 15). At step four, the ALJ found that Pettway could not perform her past relevant work. (Tr. 20). At step five, the ALJ concluded that there were sufficient jobs in the national economy that Pettway could perform, based on the RFC, and thus, found she was not disabled. (Tr. 21).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Stand ...


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