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Garavaglia v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

August 10, 2019

STEVEN GARAVAGLIA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Terrence G. Berg United States District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DKTS. 13, 14)

          STEPHANIE DAWKINS DAVIS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. Proceedings in this Court

         On July 17, 2018, plaintiff Steven Garavaglia 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 Terrence G. Berg referred this matter to the undersigned for the purpose of reviewing the Commissioner's unfavorable decision denying plaintiff's claim for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. (Dkt. 3). This matter is before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. (Dkt. 13, 14).

         B. Administrative Proceedings

         Garavaglia filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on November 2, 2015, alleging disability beginning on November 2, 2015. (Tr. 14).[1] The claims were initially disapproved by the Commissioner on January 14, 2016. Plaintiff requested a hearing and on July 17, 2017, he appeared with counsel, before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Patricia S. McKay, who considered the case de novo. (Tr. 14-23). In a decision dated September 29, 2017, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 22). The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council, on May 27, 2018, denied plaintiff's request for review. (Tr. 1-5); 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. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         A. ALJ Findings

         Garavaglia, born July 19, 1967, was 48 years old on the alleged disability onset date. (Tr. 21). He has past relevant work as a carpenter. (Id.). He claims he cannot work because of sharp back pain. (Tr. 41). He injured his back at work when he was 22 or 23 years old. (Tr. 42-43).

         The ALJ applied the five-step disability analysis and found at step one that Garavaglia had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 2, 2015, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 16). At step two, the ALJ found that Garavaglia's history of degenerative disc disease/osteoarthritis and herniated lumbar discs and hypertension with syncope were “severe” within the meaning of the second sequential step. (Tr. 17). However, at step three, the ALJ found no evidence that plaintiff's impairments singly or in combination met or medically equaled one of the listings in the regulations. (Tr. 18).

         Thereafter, the ALJ assessed plaintiff'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 404.1567(b) except only occasional climbing of stairs, crouching, crawling, kneeling, and stopping/bending [sic]; and must avoid workplace hazards such as dangerous, moving machinery and unprotected heights, which precludes climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolding.

(Tr. 18). At step four, the ALJ found that plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work. (Tr. 21). At step five, the ALJ denied plaintiff benefits because she found that there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff can perform. (Tr. 21-22).

         III. ...


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