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Carter v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

September 5, 2019

LAKKISHA MARIE CARTER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

         ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF #23) TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF #22), (2) ADOPTING THE DISPOSITION RECOMMENDED BY THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE, (3) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #19), AND (4) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #18)

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this action, Plaintiff Lakkisha Marie Carter challenges the denial of her applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. (See Compl., ECF #1.) Both parties have moved for summary judgment. (See Motions, ECF ## 18, 19.) On July 26, 2019, the assigned Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation in which he recommended that the Court grant Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's motion and deny Carter's motion (the “R&R, ” ECF #22.) Carter has now filed timely objections to the R&R (the “Objections”). (See Objections, ECF #23.) For the reasons explained below, the Court OVERRULES the Objections, ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's recommend disposition, GRANTS the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment (ECF #19), and DENIES Carter's motion for summary judgment (ECF #18).

         I

         A

         The issue Carter raises in the Objections is straightforward and does not require a detailed discussion of the factual or procedural background of this action. The essential background is as follows.

         Carter alleges that she suffers from degenerative joint disease of the left knee, a severed left ulnar nerve, depression, and an anxiety disorder. (See ECF #15-2 at Pg. ID 33.) She says that these conditions render her unable to work and entitle her to disability benefits.

         The Social Security Administration denied Carter's applications for benefits on July 23, 2015. (See ECF #15-3 at Pg. ID 147-70; ECF #15-4 at Pg. ID 174-75, 182-83.) It denied her applications because it determined that she was “not disabled.” (ECF #15-4 at Pg. ID 174.)

         Carter thereafter requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (the “ALJ”). (See Id. at Pg. ID 190.) That hearing took place on May 18, 2017. (See ECF #15-2 at Pg. ID 90.) Carter and a vocational expert both testified at the hearing. (See id.)

         The ALJ issued his decision on Carter's applications for benefits on November 20, 2017. (See ALJ's Decision, ECF #15-2 at Pg. ID 72-82.) In that ruling, the ALJ followed “a five-step sequential evaluation process for determining whether [Carter was] disabled.” (Id. at Pg. ID 73.) This five-step evaluation process proceeds as follows:

Step One: Has claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity? If not, move to Step Two.
Step Two: Does claimant suffer from one or more severe impairments? If so, move to Step Three.
Step Three: Do the claimant's impairments or combination of impairments meet or medically equal the criteria of an impairment listed in the Commissioner's Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, claimant is disabled. If not, move to Step Four.
Step Four: Considering claimant's residual functional capacity, can the claimant perform his or her past relevant work? If not, move to Step Five.
Step Five: Considering claimant's age, education, past work experience, and residual functional capacity, can the claimant perform other work available in the national ...

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