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Grandowicz-Racz v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

August 29, 2019

Mary Ann Grandowicz-Racz, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ELIZABETH A. STAFFORD U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS [22]; ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [21]; DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [14]; AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [20]

          ARTHUR J. TARNOW SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Mary Ann Grandowicz-Racz, applied for disability insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration on March 9, 2015. She alleged that she had been disabled since October 2, 2013. Her claims were denied, and she then requested and received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The hearing was held on September 2, 2016, in Toledo, Ohio, before ALJ Dianne S. Mantel. On August 30, 2017, the ALJ issued an opinion denying Ms. Grandowicz-Racz's claims. [Dkt. # 7-2]. The Appeals Council denied her request for review on May 21, 2018. Plaintiff timely filed suit under 42 U.S.C. § 405 on June 25, 2018. [Dkt. # 1].

         Ms. Grandowicz-Racz's case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford for determination of non-dispositive motions pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and issuance of a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) & (C). [Dkt. # 3]. Plaintiff filed her Motion for Summary Judgment [14] on November 27, 2019. Defendant filed his Motion for Summary Judgment [20] on February 21, 2019. On July 12, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued an R&R [22] recommending that Defendant's motion be granted, and that Plaintiff's motion be denied. Plaintiff filed timely objections, to which Defendant has responded.

         For the reasons stated below, the Court OVERRULES the Objections [22] and ADOPTS the R&R [21]. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [14] is DENIED. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [20] is GRANTED.

         Factual Background

         The Magistrate Judge summarized the factual background of Ms. Grandowicz-Racz's alleged disability and claim as follows.

         A. Grandowicz-Racz's Background and Disability Applications

Born 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 supervisorretail, 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].
After a 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. 1].

         B. The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework Analysis

A “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. §§ 423(d)(1)(A);1382c(a)(3)(A).
The 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 rea 4 the Commissioner if the fifth step is reached. Preslar v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th Cir. 1994).
Applying 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 ...

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