United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 13) AND DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 10)
AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
This is a social security case. Plaintiff Katherine Ellen Owens (Plaintiff) appeals from the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying her application for Social Security Disability Benefits. Plaintiff claims disability since July 12, 2010, due to arthritis, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety. (Tr. at 59)
The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 10, 13) The motions were referred to a Magistrate Judge (MJ) for a report and recommendation (R&R). The MJ recommends that the Court deny Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and grant the Commissioner’s motion. Now before the Court is Plaintiff’s objections to the R&R. (Doc. 15) For the folowing reasons, the Court will adopt the R&R as the findings and conclusions of the Court. The Commissioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 13) is GRANTED and Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 10) is DENIED.
The R&R sets forth the facts, many of which are repeated here. Plaintiff applied for disability benefits in April 2011, alleging that she was disabled and unable to work since July 12, 2010, at age 52, due to arthritis, depression, PTSD, and anxiety. (Tr. at 59) The Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Plaintiff’s claim, and Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
A. The ALJ’s Decision
After considering evidence presented at the hearing and in the record, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits because she retained the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range of medium work. (Tr. at 25-33) The ALJ relied on the opinion of vocational expert Michelle Ross, who testified that given all of the factors, “[Plaintiff] would be able to perform the requirements of representative unskilled, medium exertional level occupations in the state of Michigan . . . .” (Tr. 72) In reaching her decision, the ALJ considered Plaintiff’s own testimony, weighed the medical assessments, and evaluated Plaintiff’s credibility, as described below.
1. Plaintiff’s Testimony
Plaintiff was 54 years old at the time of the administrative hearing. (Tr. at 42) She received a high school degree and was employed during the relevant past as an assistant hotel manager. (Tr. at 55)
At the administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified that she is unable to work due to a combination of symptoms. She testified that she could only sit for 20 to 30 minutes, stand for 10 minutes, and walk for a block, due to pain in her back and knees. (Tr. at 44-45) Her left knee starts to hurt if she stands for more than 10 minutes. (Tr. at 45) Plaintiff had a cane prescribed for her in 2007, and she uses it whenever she is outside her home to ambulate for pain relief and balance control. (Tr. at 45) Plaintiff testified she has difficulty climbing the stairs because of her knee pain. (Tr. at 47) She can lift about five pounds without increasing pain, and suffers from numbness in the hands. (Tr. at 46) Plaintiff also described difficulties sleeping at night. (Tr. at 48) Her memory is “a little fuzzy, ” and she easily gets overwhelmed and anxious. Plaintiff testified that she has panic attacks when in public or when at home thinking about leaving the house. (Tr. at 48)
2. Medical Assessments
The ALJ further considered Plaintiffs longitudinal medical history, including the opinions of several medical sources. These opinions, as well as their relative weight provided by the ALJ, are summarized as follows:
• John DeLoach, Ph.D., a state agency reviewing psychologist, opined that Plaintiff retains the capacity to perform simple and repetitive tasks on a sustained basis. The ALJ gave Dr. DeLoach’s opinion significant weight. (Tr. at 70)
• Daniel Dolanski, D.O. a state agency reviewing physician, opined that Plaintiff does not have any severe physical impairment. However, the ALJ gave Dr. Dolanski’s opinion only “some weight, ” and determined that Plaintiff has a medium ...