United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
VICTORIA A. ROBERTS DISTRICT JUDGE.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Marianne Henman seeks judicial review of Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security's determination that she
is not entitled to social security benefits for her physical
and mental impairments under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Docket
no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (docket no. 11) and Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15). Plaintiff has also
filed an answer and brief in response to Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket no. 16.) The motions
have been referred to the undersigned for a Report and
Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
(Docket no. 3.) The undersigned has reviewed the pleadings,
dispenses with a hearing pursuant to Eastern District of
Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), and issues this Report and
reasons that follow, it is recommended that Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 11) be
DENIED and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (docket no. 15) be GRANTED.
protectively filed applications for a period of disability,
disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security
income on March 12, 2015, alleging that she has been disabled
since January 6, 2015, due to shoulder surgery, bilateral
shoulder pain, a broken vertebra in her neck, and numbness.
(TR 11, 85-86, 185-97, 210.) The Social Security
Administration denied Plaintiff's claims on August 4,
2015, and Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (TR 59-86, 123-28.)
On February 7, 2017, Plaintiff appeared with a representative
and testified at a hearing before ALJ Paul W. Jones. (TR
26-58.) The ALJ subsequently issued an unfavorable decision
on March 10, 2017, and the Appeals Council declined to review
the ALJ's decision. (TR 1-6, 11-20.) Plaintiff then
commenced this action for judicial review, and the parties
filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently
before the court.
HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE
(docket no. 11 at 6-9) and the ALJ (TR 13-18) have set forth
detailed, factual summaries of Plaintiff's medical
record; the ALJ also summarized the hearing testimony (TR 17,
19). Defendant incorporates by reference the ALJ's
recitation of the facts into her brief. (Docket no. 15 at 4.)
Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's
medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned
finds that there are no material inconsistencies between
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 make references and citations to the record as
necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout
this Report and Recommendation.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DETERMINATION
found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of January 6, 2015, and
that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe
impairments: C6 fracture, bilateral shoulder status post
arthroplasties, seizure disorder, depression, anxiety, and
alcohol abuse. (TR 13-15.) Additionally, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically
equal the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 15-16.) The ALJ then found
that Plaintiff had the following residual functional capacity
[C]laimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b),
except that she can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
frequently climb ramps or stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl; with no exposure to hazards; occasional exposure to
vibration; in simple, routine, repetitive work; with
occasional changes in the work setting.
(TR 16-18.) Subsequently, in reliance on a vocational
expert's (VE's) testimony, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff was capable of performing a significant number of
jobs in the national economy. (TR 19.) Therefore, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social
Security Act at any time from January 6, 2015, through the
date of the decision. (TR 11, 19-20.)
LAW AND ANALYSIS
Standard of Review
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court has jurisdiction to
review the Commissioner's final decisions. Judicial
review of the Commissioner's decisions is limited to
determining whether his findings are supported by substantial
evidence and whether he employed the proper legal standards.
See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Walters v. Comm'r, 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir.
1997). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but less
than a preponderance; it is “‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Richardson, 402
U.S. at 401 (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)); Walters, 127
F.3d at 528. It is not the function of this Court to try
cases de novo, resolve conflicts in the evidence, or
decide questions of credibility. See Brainard v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 889 F.2d 679, 681
(6th Cir. 1989); Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383,
387 (6th Cir. 1984).
determining the existence of substantial evidence, the court
must examine the administrative record as a whole. See
Kirk v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 667 F.2d
524, 536 (6th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 461 U.S. 957
(1983). If the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence, it must be affirmed, even if the
reviewing court would decide the matter differently,
Kinsella v. Schweiker, 708 F.2d 1058, 1059 (6th Cir.
1983), and even if substantial evidence also supports the
opposite conclusion. See Her v. Comm'r, 203 F.3d
388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999); Mullen v. Bowen, 800
F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986) (en banc) (noting that the
substantial evidence standard “presupposes that there
is a zone of choice within which the decisionmakers can go
either way, without interference by the courts”).
“But ‘[a]n ALJ's failure to follow agency
rules and regulations denotes a lack of substantial evidence,
even where the conclusion of the ALJ may be justified based
upon the record.'” Gayheart v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 710 F.3d 365, 374 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Cole v. Astrue, 661 F.3d 931, 937 (6th Cir. 2011)).
Framework for Social ...