United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HONORABLE ARTHUR J. TARNOW MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF. NOS. 14, 20]
ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Mary Ann Grandowicz-Racz appeals a final decision of
defendant Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner)
denying her application for disability insurance benefits
(DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI) under the Social
Security Act. Both parties have filed summary judgment
motions, referred to this Court for a report and
recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
After review of the record, the Court finds that the
administrative law judge's (ALJ) decision is supported by
substantial evidence, and thus RECOMMENDS
â¢ Grandowicz-Racz's motion [ECF No. 14]
â¢ the Commissioner's motion [ECF No. 20]
be GRANTED; and
â¢ the ALJ's decision be
AFFIRMED pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
Grandowicz-Racz's Background and Disability
November 18, 1972, Grandowicz-Racz was 40 years old on the
alleged disability onset date of October 2, 2013. [ECF No.
7-2, Tr. 10, 26]. She has past relevant work as a night stock
supervisor, stock supervisor-retail, assistant retail manager
and customer service representative. [Id., at Tr.
26]. Grandowicz-Racz claims disability due to scoliosis,
Crohn's disease, fatigue, colitis, and lupus. [ECF No.
7-6, Tr. 283].
hearing in September, 2016, during which Grandowicz-Racz and
a vocational expert (VE) testified, the ALJ found that she
was not disabled. [ECF No. 7-2, Tr. 10-99]. The Appeals
Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. [Id., Tr. 1-6].
Grandowicz-Racz timely filed for judicial review. [ECF No.
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. §§
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); 416.920(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 Grandowicz-Racz was
not disabled. At the first step, she found that
Grandowicz-Racz had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date of October 2, 2013.
[ECF No. 7-2, Tr. 13]. At the second step, she found that
Grandowicz-Racz had the severe impairments of
“Crohn's disease, Crohn's-related
arthritis/inflammatory arthritis; lumbar degenerative disc
disease; and psychological conditions variously described as
anxiety and depression.” [Id.]. Next, the ALJ
concluded that none of her impairments, either alone or in
combination, met or medically equaled the severity of a
listed impairment. [Id., Tr. 14-17].
the third and fourth steps, the ALJ found that
Grandowicz-Racz had the RFC to perform sedentary work in
[She] can lift, carry, push and pull 10 pounds occasionally
and less than 10 pounds frequently. She can sit for 6 hours
out of an 8-hour workday and can stand and/or walk for 2
hours out of an 8-hour workday. She must have the ability to
alternate between sitting and standing, at her option, every
thirty minutes for one to two minutes so long as she is not
off task, or has to leave the vicinity of her work station.
[She] can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, and can
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, crouch, kneel,
stoop, and crawl. She can frequently reach overhead with her
bilateral upper extremities, occasionally to the rear, and
can frequently bilaterally handle, operate hand controls and
push and pull. She can have only occasional exposure to
extreme cold, hot, humidity and wetness. She cannot be
exposed to vibrations associated with the upper or lower
extremities. She cannot walk on uneven terrain or work around
unprotected heights or unprotected moving mechanical
machinery. She can understand, remember and carry out simple,
routine tasks, make judgments on simple work, and respond
appropriately to usual work situations and ...