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Lockwood v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

August 13, 2019

RICKY A. LOCKWOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Sean F. Cox District Judge.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Ricky A. Lockwood seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's determination that he is not entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act. (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15). This matter has been referred to the undersigned for determination of all non-dispositive motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and issuance of a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and (C). (Docket no. 3.) Having reviewed the pleadings, the Court dispenses with a hearing pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2) and issues this Report and Recommendation.

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 14) be GRANTED, that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15) be DENIED, and that the case be remanded to the Commissioner under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On May 1, 2015, Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), alleging that he has been disabled since October 3, 2014. (TR 179-92.) The Social Security Administration initially denied Plaintiff's claims on October 1, 2015. (TR 93-108.) On June 22, 2017, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) John Loughlin. (TR 34-68.) During the hearing, Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to September 12, 2015. (TR 38.)

         On October 17, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on Plaintiff's claims. (TR 10-23.) Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council, which was denied on July 17, 2018. (TR 1-3.) On August 20, 2018, Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review. (Docket no. 1.) The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the Court. (Docket no. 14; docket no. 15.)

         III. HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE

         Plaintiff sets forth a brief procedural history of this matter as well as a short summary of his medical issues. (Docket no. 14, pp. 7-16.) In addition, the ALJ summarized Plaintiff's medical record (TR 12-21), and Defendant provided its own summary of the facts (docket no. 15, pp. 4- 11). Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies among 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 refer to the record as necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         IV. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DETERMINATION

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019 and that he had not performed substantial gainful activity since September 12, 2015, the amended alleged onset date. (TR 12.) In addition, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: “lumbar degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, lumbosacral facet joint arthropathy with laminectomy, cervical degenerative disc disease with fusion, left shoulder arthritis, cataract, presbyopia, vestibular system dysfunction/benign positional vertigo, seizure/pseudo-seizure disorder, major depressive disorder, and anxiety.” (Id.) Nevertheless, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 13.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b), subject to the following non-exertional limitations:

■ Plaintiff can frequently reach overhead with the left and light ...

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