United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
CORONDA S. SANDERS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
J. TARNOW, DISTRICT JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT (R. 16 & 19)
Patricia T. Morris, United States Magistrate Judge
light of the entire record in this case, I suggest that
substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's
determination that Plaintiff is not disabled. Accordingly,
IT IS RECOMMENDED that Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment, (R. 16), be
DENIED, the Commissioner's Motion for
Summary Judgment, (R. 19), be GRANTED, and
this case be AFFIRMED.
Introduction and Procedural History
an action for judicial review of a final decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff Coronda
Sanders's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
under Title II, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. (R. 1).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), E.D. Mich. LR
72.1(b)(3), and by Notice of Reference, this case was
referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge. Currently
before the Court are Plaintiff's and Defendant's
cross-motions for summary judgment (R. 16, 19).
filed the application for DIB on May 10, 2016, alleging onset
on January 21, 2015. (R.12 at PageID.165.) Her claim was
denied at the initial level on July 13, 2016. (R.12 at
PageID.96.) After an administrative hearing was held at
Plaintiff's request, (R.12 at PageID.60), Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) Latanya White Richards issued a decision
finding that Plaintiff had not been under a disability from
her alleged onset date of January 21, 2015, through the date
of the decision, February 27, 2018. (R.12 at PageID.56.) The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
(R.12 at PageID.38-40.) This action followed. (R. 1).
Standard of Review
district court has jurisdiction to review the
Commissioner's final administrative decision pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The district court's review is
restricted solely to determining whether the
“Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal
standard or has made findings of fact unsupported by
substantial evidence in the record.” Sullivan v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 595 F App'x. 502, 506 (6th
Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). Substantial
evidence is “more than a scintilla of evidence but less
than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
Court must examine the administrative record as a whole, and
may consider any evidence in the record, regardless of
whether it has been cited by the ALJ. See Walker
v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 884 F.2d
241, 245 (6th Cir. 1989). The Court will not “try the
case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor
decide questions of credibility.” Cutlip v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994). If the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence, “it must be affirmed
even if the reviewing court would decide the matter
differently and even if substantial evidence also supports
the opposite conclusion.” Id.
Framework for Disability Determinations
the Act, “DIB . . . [is] available only for those who
have a ‘disability.'” Colvin v.
Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007).
“Disability” means 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 [twelve] months.
42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A) (DIB); 20
C.F.R. § 416.905(a) (SSI). The Commissioner's
regulations provide that disability is to be determined
through the application of a five-step sequential analysis:
(i) At the first step, we consider your work activity, if
any. If you are doing substantial gainful activity, we will
find that you are not disabled. . . .
(ii) At the second step, we consider the medical severity of
your impairment(s). If you do not have a severe medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that meets the
duration requirement . . . or a combination of impairments
that is severe and meets the duration requirement, we will
find that you are not disabled. . . .
(iii) At the third step, we also consider the medical
severity of your impairment(s). If you have an impairment(s)
that meets or equals one of our listings in appendix 1 of
this subpart and meets the duration requirement, we will find
that you are disabled. . . .
(iv) At the fourth step, we consider our assessment of your
residual functional capacity and your past relevant work. If
you can still do your past relevant work, we will find that
you are not disabled. . . .
(v) At the fifth and last step, we consider our assessment of
your residual functional capacity and your age, education,
and work experience to see if you can make an adjustment to
other work. If you can make an adjustment to other work, we
will find that you are not disabled. If you cannot make an
adjustment to other work, we will find that you are disabled.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. See also Heston
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir.
2001). “Through step four, the claimant bears the
burden of proving the existence and severity of limitations
caused by [his or] her impairments and the fact that [he or]
she is precluded from performing her past relevant
work.” Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336
F.3d 469, 474 (6th Cir. 2003). A claimant must establish a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment
(expected to last at least twelve months or result in death)
that rendered him or her unable to engage in substantial
gainful activity. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The burden
transfers to the Commissioner if the analysis reaches the
fifth step without a finding that the claimant is not
disabled. Combs v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 459 F.3d
640, 643 (6th Cir. 2006). At the fifth step, the Commissioner
is required to show that “other jobs in significant
numbers exist in the national economy that [the claimant]
could perform given [his or] her RFC [residual functional
capacity] and considering relevant vocational factors.”
Rogers, 486 F.3d at 241 (citing 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.920(a)(4)(v), (g)).
the five-step sequential analysis, at step one, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements through
December 31, 2020, and had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 21, 2015, the alleged onset date.
(R.12 at PageID.49.) Next, the ALJ determined Plaintiff had
the following severe impairments: status post-fracture of the
proximal tibia, pelvis, and right distal femur, and obesity.
(Id.) Plaintiff did not, however, have an impairment
or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled
the severity of a listed impairment. (R.12 at PageID.50-51.)
The ALJ found that Plaintiff could not perform any past
relevant work. (R.12 at PageID.55.) Finally, the ALJ found
Plaintiff had the RFC to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 C.F.R 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a), except that she could
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but cannot climb ladders
or scaffolds, kneel, crouch, or crawl;
occasionally stoop; must avoid use of hazardous machinery and
exposure to unprotected heights; avoid balancing on narrow,
slippery, or moving surfaces; no commercial driving; requires
a cane for ambulation; and needs a sit or stand option at
will while remaining on task.
(R.12 at PageID.51.) The ALJ further found that jobs that she
could perform existed in significant numbers in the national
economy. The ALJ noted that the vocational expert's
(VE's) testimony was consistent with the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (DOT) but that the DOT is silent on use