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Gant-Holmes v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 22, 2019

MARY C. GANT-HOLMES, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          DAVID R. GRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION [#17], ADOPTING THE JUNE 4, 2019 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [#16], GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#14], AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#12]

          Hon. Gershwin A. Drain United States District Court Judge.

         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Mary C. Gant-Holmes and Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. Dkt. No. 12; Dkt. No. 14. Previously, Defendant denied Plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the Social Security Act (the “Act”). In turn, Plaintiff initiated the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) challenging the Commissioner's decision.

         The Court referred the parties' Motions for Summary Judgment to Magistrate Judge David R. Grand, who issued a Report and Recommendation Granting Defendant's Motion and Denying Plaintiff's Motion. Dkt. No. 16. Plaintiff has now filed an Objection to that Report and Recommendation. Dkt. No. 17.

         Present before the Court is Plaintiff's Objection to Magistrate Judge Grand's June 4, 2019 Report and Recommendation. Id. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will Overrule Plaintiff's Objection [#17], Adopt Magistrate Judge Grand's Report and Recommendation [#16], Grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [#14], and Deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [#12].

         II. Background

         Magistrate Judge Grand's Report and Recommendation set forth the relevant background in this case. The Court will adopt those findings here:

Gant-Holmes was 59 years old at the time of her alleged onset date of July 15, 2013, and at 5'6” tall weighed approximately 196 pounds during the relevant time period. She received her GED in 1990. She reported previous work as a babysitter, cashier, factory assembler, factory utility worker, and resident care in a nursing facility. She now alleges disability primarily as a result of spinal stenosis with chronic back pain, uncontrolled type II diabetes, depression, and hypertension.
After Gant-Holmes's applications for DIB and SSI were denied at the initial level on November 18, 2015, she timely requested an administrative hearing, which was held on June 2, 2017 before ALJ Thomas L. Walters. Gant-Holmes, who was represented by attorney Samuel Earley, testified at the hearing, as did vocational expert Heather Benton. On August 21, 2017, the ALJ issued a written decision finding that Gant-Holmes is not disabled under the Act. On May 16, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review. Gant-Holmes timely filed for judicial review of the final decision on July 9, 2018.

Dkt. No. 16, p. 2 (Pg. ID 612) (internal citations omitted).

         III. Legal Standard

         “The district court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final administrative decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).” Sparrow v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2016 WL 1658305, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 30, 2016). “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.'” Id. (quoting Sullivan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 595 Fed.Appx. 502, 506 (6th Cir. 2014)). “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.'” Id. (quoting Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007).

         “The 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.” Id. “The Court will not ‘try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.'” Id. (quoting Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health and 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 ...


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