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Willoughby v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

January 27, 2015


For Kelly Willoughby, Plaintiff: Kiel J. Roeschke, Stu Johnson & Associates, P.C., Warren, MI.

For CAROLYN W COLVIN, Defendant: Andrew J. AUSA Lievense, U.S. Attorney's Office, Detroit, MI; Hugh J. Rappaport, Social Secuity Administration, Assistant Regional Counsel, Boston, MA.




Plaintiff Kelly Willoughby (" Plaintiff") brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging a final decision of Defendant Commissioner denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (" DIB") and Supplemental Security Income (" SSI") under the Social Security Act. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment which have been referred for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be GRANTED [Docket #17] and that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment be DENIED [Docket #15].


Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on June 20 2011 and August 8, 2011 respectively, alleging disability as of June 5, 2006[1] (Tr. 176-179, 180-186). Upon initial denial of the claim, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, held on November 8, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan (Tr. 41). Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ") Michael R. Dunn presided (Tr. 41). Plaintiff, represented by Randall Mansour, testified, as did Vocational Expert (" VE") Harry Sinoit (Tr. 47-61, 61-66). On January 22, 2013, ALJ Dunn determined that Plaintiff was capable of a significant range of unskilled, exertionally light work (Tr. 20-36). On February 3, 2014, the Appeals Council denied review of the claim. Plaintiff filed suit in this Court on February 25, 2014.


Plaintiff, born December 4, 1961, was 51 at the time of the administrative decision (Tr. 36, 176). She graduated from high school and completed two years of college (Tr. 219). She worked previously as an accounts payable assistant, secretary, cashier, homemaker, receptionist, substitute teacher, and telemarketer (Tr. 219-220). She alleges disability as a result of arthritis, migraines, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, carpal tunnel, asthma, a torn rotator cuff, and hives (Tr. 218).

A. Plaintiff's Testimony

Plaintiff's counsel prefaced his client's testimony by amending the alleged onset date to June 15, 2011 (Tr. 45-46).

Plaintiff offered the following testimony:

She currently lived in Port Huron, Michigan with her parents (Tr. 47). She did not work (Tr. 47). She held a valid driver's license but did not drive more than once a week (Tr. 47). She was divorced with three grown children (Tr. 48). She held an associate's degree in Business Management (Tr. 48). She had not worked since February, 2011 (Tr. 48). She last worked as a substitute school librarian (Tr. 49). She worked for 20 hours a week in 2008 and 2009 at a dollar store (Tr. 49). She stopped working at the dollar store after undergoing surgery for a pulled groin muscle (Tr. 50).

She experienced " overwhelming pain on a daily basis" as a result of osteoarthritis of the back, right knee, right ankle, and left ankle (Tr. 50). She also experienced sharp right shoulder pain radiating into the right arm caused by rotator cuff problems (Tr. 50). She experienced bilateral hand pain and stiffness due to rheumatoid arthritis (Tr. 51). She coped with the rheumatoid arthritis by using hot water and gloves (Tr. 51, 54-55). She also experienced carpal tunnel syndrome (" CTS"); depression and anxiety; and migraine headaches precipitated by anxiety attacks (Tr. 51). She had also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia (Tr. 51).

Plaintiff spent most of her waking hours in a recliner with her feet on a pillow (Tr. 51). She saw a psychological therapist about once a week (Tr. 53). Both her psychotropic and pain medications were prescribed by a family doctor (Tr. 53). She experienced the side effect of sleepiness from Zanaflex and Topamax and emotional flatness from Effexor (Tr. 54). She was unable to walk more than a few feet or sit for more than 15 minutes before experiencing pain (Tr. 55). Sitting for extended periods caused joint stiffness (Tr. 56). She was able to perform laundry chores, make simple meals, and load a dishwasher (Tr. 56). She grocery shopped with the help of her parents (Tr. 57). She crocheted as a hobby but was unable to " get through" more than a washcloth sized panel at a time (Tr. 57). She kept two cats as pets (Tr. 57).

In response to questioning by her attorney, Plaintiff reported that sitting for extended periods caused hip pain radiating into her shoulder blades and knees (Tr. 57). She noted that she had undergone left side rotator cuff surgery but now experienced right shoulder pain (Tr. 57). She was unable to lift either arm above shoulder length (Tr. 58). She testified that she was unable to lift more than 10 pounds (Tr. 58). She reported that as a result of depression, she experienced feelings of helplessness and uselessness leading her to isolate herself in her bedroom (Tr. 59). She alleged migraines as a result of weather changes and stress (Tr. 59). She indicated that she avoided daytime naps due to nighttime sleep disturbances (Tr. 60). She reported the regular use of an ankle brace (Tr. 60). She reported that she quit one of her former jobs in 2006 when she experienced a " nervous breakdown" (Tr. 60-61). She stated that she quit the job for her " physical and mental health" (Tr. 61).

B. Medical Records[2]

1. Records Related to Plaintiff's ...

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