United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Honorable Victoria A. Roberts Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [9, 10]
R. GRAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Leslie Lis Hoffman (“Hoffman”) brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the final
decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under the
Social Security Act (the “Act”). Both parties
have filed summary judgment motions (Docs. #9, #10), 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 substantial
evidence supports the Administrative Law Judge's
(“ALJ”) conclusion that Hoffman was not disabled
under the Act during the relevant time period. Accordingly,
the Court RECOMMENDS that the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
#10) be GRANTED, Hoffman's
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. #9) be
DENIED, and that pursuant to sentence four
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the ALJ's decision be
was 45 years old at the time of her alleged onset date of
January 6, 2015, and at 5'3” tall weighed
approximately 200 pounds during the relevant time period.
(Tr. 33, 206). She completed high school but had no further
education. (Tr. 34, 207). She worked as a cashier and then on
an assembly line at a factory until approximately April 2012,
when her medical conditions allegedly made it too difficult
for her to perform her job duties. (Tr. 48, 206). She now
alleges disability primarily as a result of fibromyalgia,
back and hip pain, headaches, depression, and anxiety. (Tr.
34, 37-38, 206, 216).
Hoffman's application for DIB was denied at the initial
level on September 20, 2016 (Tr. 104-08), she timely
requested an administrative hearing, which was held on
December 7, 2017, before ALJ Earl Ashford (Tr. 29-55).
Hoffman, who was represented by attorney Robert Gaecke, Jr.,
testified at the hearing, as did vocational expert Mark
Pinti. (Id.). On April 24, 2018, the ALJ issued a
written decision finding that Hoffman was not disabled under
the Act prior to her date last insured of December 31, 2017.
(Tr. 12-24). On February 1, 2019, the Appeals Council denied
review. (Tr. 1-5). Hoffman timely filed for judicial review
of the final decision on March 22, 2019. (Doc. #1).
Court has thoroughly reviewed the transcript in this matter,
including Hoffman's medical record, function and
disability reports, and testimony as to her 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' arguments.
The ALJ's Application of the Disability Framework
the Act, DIB are 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. § 423(d)(1)(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 ...