United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Arthur J. Tarnow Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [14, 17]
R. GRAND United States Magistrate Judge.
Thomas James Fick (“Fick”) brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the final
decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying his application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the
Social Security Act (the “Act”). Both parties
have filed summary judgment motions (Docs. #14, #17), which
have been referred to this Court for a Report and
Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) conclusion
that Fick is not disabled under the Act is not supported by
substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court recommends that
the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment
(Doc. #17) be DENIED,
Fick's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
#14) be GRANTED IN PART to the
extent it seeks remand and DENIED IN PART to
the extent it seeks an award of benefits, and that, pursuant
to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this case be
REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings
consistent with this Recommendation.
was 38 years old at the time of his alleged onset date of
August 30, 2013, and at 5'6” tall weighed
approximately 200 pounds during the relevant time period.
(Tr. 237, 241). He completed the tenth grade, taking special
education classes, and eventually earned a GED. (Tr. 242). He
worked as a delivery driver and then briefly as a bouncer
before stopping work in June 2008 because the job was
“seasonal.” (Tr. 241-42, 310). He now alleges
disability primarily as a result of coronary artery disease,
peripheral artery disease in his right leg, posttraumatic
stress disorder (“PTSD”), anxiety, and
depression. (Tr. 241).
Fick's application for SSI was denied at the initial
level on December 22, 2015 (Tr. 156-59),  he timely
requested an administrative hearing, which was held on
September 12, 2017, before ALJ Christopher Mattia (Tr.
65-94). Fick, who was represented by attorney John Tsiros,
testified at the hearing, as did vocational expert Susan
Rowe. (Id.). On November 22, 2017, the ALJ issued a
written decision finding that Fick is not disabled under the
Act. (Tr. 33-50). On September 7, 2018, the Appeals Council
denied review. (Tr. 1-6). Fick timely filed for judicial
review of the final decision on November 1, 2018. (Doc. #1).
Court has thoroughly reviewed the transcript in this matter,
including Fick's medical record, function and disability
reports, and testimony as to his conditions and resulting
limitations. Instead of summarizing that information here,
the Court will make references and provide citations to the
transcript as necessary in its discussion of the parties'
The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework
the Act, SSI is available only for those who have a
“disability.” See Colvin v.
Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). The Act
defines “disability” as 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. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). The
Commissioner's regulations provide that a disability is
to be determined through the application of a five-step
Step One: If the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity, benefits are denied without further
Step Two: If the claimant does not have a severe impairment
or combination of impairments that “significantly
limits . . . physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities, ” benefits are denied without further
Step Three: If the claimant is not performing substantial
gainful activity, has a severe impairment that is expected to
last for at least twelve months, and the severe impairment
meets or equals one of the impairments listed in the
regulations, the claimant is conclusively presumed to be
disabled regardless of age, education, or work experience.
Step Four: If the claimant is able to perform his or her past
relevant work, benefits are denied without further analysis.
Step Five: Even if the claimant is unable to perform his or
her past relevant work, if other work exists in the national
economy that the claimant can perform, in view of his or her