United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION (ECF
#17) TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION,
(2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION AS THE OPINION OF THE COURT, (3) DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #13), AND
(4) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF
MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action, Plaintiff Louis Milton Wilmore, Jr.
(“Wilmore”) alleges that the Social Security
Administration (the “SSA”) wrongly denied his
application for Social Security disability benefits. After
the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, the
assigned Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation
(the “R&R”) in which he recommends that the
Court (1) grant summary judgment in favor of the Defendant,
the Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner”), and (2) deny Wilmore's
motion for summary judgment. (See ECF #16.) Wilmore
filed a timely objection to the R&R (the
“Objection”). (See ECF #17.) The Court
has conducted a de novo review of the portions of
the R&R to which Wilmore has objected. For the reasons
stated below, the Court OVERRULES the Objection, ADOPTS AS
THE OPINION OF THE COURT the well-reasoned R&R, GRANTS
the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, and
DENIES Wilmore's motion for summary judgment.
August 27, 2009, Wilmore filed an application for Social
Security disability insurance benefits (the
“Application”). (See Admin. R., ECF #9-5
at 2-19, Pg. ID 139-56.) In the Application, Wilmore claimed
that he had been disabled since April 1, 2009, due to
diabetes, high blood pressure, post-traumatic
stress-disorder, memory loss, gross impairment of thought
processes, and incontinence. (See Admin. R., ECF
#9-6 at 5, Pg. ID 161.) The SSA denied the Application
because it found that Wilmore was not disabled. (See
Admin. R., ECF #9-4 at 5, Pg. ID 98.)
requested and received a hearing before an administrative law
judge (“ALJ”). On April 28, 2011, ALJ Mary Ann
Poulose (“ALJ Poulose”) issued a decision
affirming the SSA's denial of benefits. (See
Admin. R., ECF #9-2 at 14-20, Pg. ID 50-56.) After the SSA
Appeal Council denied Wilmore's request for review, he
appealed in this Court. On January 29, 2014, Judge Patrick J.
Duggan held that ALJ Poulose erred because she did not
consider “an April 2010 notation in [Wilmore's]
medical records from the Department of Veterans Affairs
(“VA”) indicating that [he] has an eighty (80)
percent service-connected disability.” Wilmore v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2014 WL 320072, at *3 (E.D.
Mich. Jan. 29, 2014). Judge Duggan remanded the case to the
Commissioner “for further consideration of the
evidence” (the “Remand Order”).
Id. at *4.
receiving the Remand Order, the SSA Appeals Council issued an
order to further remand the case to an ALJ for
“proceedings consistent with the order of the
[C]ourt” (the “Appeals Council Remand
Order”). (Admin. R., ECF #9-9 at 32, Pg. ID 496.) The
case was reassigned to ALJ Timothy Christensen (“ALJ
Christensen”). In his March 25, 2015 written decision
(the “ALJ's Decision”), ALJ Christensen
After careful review and evaluation of the Veteran's
Administration's (VA) disability findings as of February
28, 2009 and consideration of a notation in VA medical
records in April 2010 made by an optometrist indicating that
the claimant had an eighty (80) percent service connected
disability, [I] conclude that the findings of ALJ Poulose
remain appropriate and adopt the decision for the reasons
(ALJ's Decision, ECF #9-8 at 32, Pg. ID 391.) ALJ
Christensen went on to apply the SSA's required five-step
sequential analysis to determine whether Wilmore was
disabled. The five steps are as follows:
Step One: Has claimant engaged in
substantial gainful activity? If not, move to Step Two.
Step Two: Does claimant suffer from one or
more severe impairments? If so, move to Step Three.
Step Three: Does claimant's impairments
or combination of impairments meet or medically equal the
criteria of an impairment listed in the Commissioner's
Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1. If so, claimant is disabled. If not, move to Step
Step Four: Considering claimant's
residual functional capacity, can the claimant perform his or
her past relevant work. If not, move to Step Five. If so,
claimant is not disabled.
Step Five: Considering claimant's age,
education, past work experience, and residual functional
capacity, can the claimant perform other work available in
the national economy. If not, claimant is disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.
Christensen made the following findings at the first three
steps of his analysis:
Step One: “[Wilmore] did not engage in
substantial gainful activity during the period from his
alleged onset date of April 1, 2009 through his date last
insured of July 31, 2011.”
Step Two: “[Wilmore] had the following
severe impairments: high blood pressure and diabetes
Step Three: “Through the date last
insured, [Wilmore] did not have an impairment or combination
of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part ...