United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
PAMELA M. NOWAK, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a Social Security case. Plaintiff Pamela Nowak (Nowak)
appeals a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(Commissioner) denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits. Nowak sought benefits for fibromyalgia,
osteoarthritis and hypothyroidism, among other physical and
mental impairments. An administrative law judge (ALJ) held a
hearing at which Nowak testified, found Nowak not disabled,
and denied her claim. The Appeals Council (AC) declined
is suing under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking reversal of
the Commissioner's decision. Nowak has filed a motion for
summary judgment, (Doc. 9). The Commissioner has filed a
cross motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 10). The motions
were referred to a magistrate judge (MJ) who reported and
recommended (R&R), (Doc. 12), that the Court deny
Nowak's motion, grant the Commissioner's cross motion
and affirm the denial of benefits. Nowak has filed objections
to the R&R, (Doc. 13), to which the Commissioner has
responded, (Doc. 14).
reasons that follow, Nowak's objections to the R&R,
(Doc. 13), are OVERRULED, the R&R, (Doc. 12), is ADOPTED,
Nowak's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 9), is DENIED,
the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, (Doc.
10), is GRANTED, and the Commissioner's denial of
benefits is AFFIRMED.
Social Security Proceedings
parties do not object to the R&R's recitation of the
facts. (See Docs. 13, 14). The Court adopts it.
(See Doc. 12).
claims a disability beginning April 9, 2009. Before then, for
nearly 11 years, Nowak was employed full-time as a medical
assistant working 12-hour shifts.
found Nowak had 4 severe impairments: scoliosis of the dorsal
spine, loss of lordotic curve, osteoarthritis of the spine
and Vitamin D deficiency. The ALJ also found non-severe
impairments including hypothyroidism, depression and anxiety.
concluded that Nowak had no medically determinable impairment
from fibromyalgia. The notes of Dr. Noor Bunney, Nowak's
treating physician of 15 years, did not reference any
“tender points” on her body to suggest such a
assessing residual functional capacity, the ALJ found
Nowak's statements of symptoms credible but not her
statements as to intensity, persistence and limiting effects
of symptoms. The ALJ noted the latter were inconsistent with
Nowak's medical records and statements of daily
activities. The ALJ considered the opinion of Dr. Bunney that
Nowak was significantly limited in her ability to do work and
diagnosing her with fibromyalgia. The ALJ gave the opinion
“no weight” as it was (1) unsupported by clinical
findings in the treatment notes, which were unremarkable and
reflected intact neurological function, strength and
sensation; and (2) inconsistent with Nowak's statements
of daily activities, which included attending and teaching
lessons at church, yard work, reading, writing letters,
driving and performing household chores.
found Nowak capable of performing light work with
restrictions, including her past relevant work as a medical