United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Carolyn Ann Lucas brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§405(g), challenging a final decision of Defendant
Commissioner denying his application for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) under the Social Security Act.
Both parties have filed summary judgment motions. For the
reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary
judgment [Dock. #20] is GRANTED and Plaintiff's motion
for summary judgment [Dock. #14] is DENIED.
August 20, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB,
alleging disability as of April 23, 2012 (Tr.86-87). After
the initial denial of the claim, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, held on February 19, 2014 in Oak
Park, Michigan before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Timothy Christensen (Tr. 20). Plaintiff,
represented by attorney Barry Keller, testified (Tr. 26-32),
as did Vocational Expert (“VE”) Kelly Stroker
(Tr. 33-35). On March 27, 2014, ALJ Christensen found that
Plaintiff was not disabled through the date last insured of
December 31, 2013 (Tr. 10-16). On August 21, 2015, the
Appeals Council denied review (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff filed for
judicial review of the final decision on October 10, 2015.
born November 19, 1967, was 46 when the ALJ issued his
decision (Tr. 16, 86). She received a GED and holds certified
nurse assistant (“CNA”) credentials (Tr. 102).
She worked previously assisting disabled individuals with
personal care tasks and activities of daily living (Tr. 103).
She alleges disability due to shoulder, back, and knee
injuries (Tr. 101).
offered the following testimony:
lived in a one-story house in Detroit, Michigan with her
daughter, 22, son, 15, and grandson (Tr. 26). She seldom
drove due to knee pain (Tr. 26). Prior to becoming to
disabled, she worked as a CNA but also had past relevant work
as an assembler and as a security guard (Tr. 27). She was
unable to return to any of her former work due to her
inability to lift more than 10 pounds, bend, or stoop (Tr.
worked up until the time of an April, 2012 vehicle accident
(Tr. 28). She was now unable to maintain her house and relied
on her daughter to do the laundry (Tr. 28). She did not
perform any household chores and was unable to walk
significant distances (Tr. 29). She was unable to stand for
more than six minutes or sit for more than 30 minutes at a
time (Tr. 29). She also experienced uncontrolled hypertension
and the night before the hearing, had sought emergency
treatment for blood pressure readings of 215 over 120 (Tr.
30). She took blood pressure medication and Prilosec for acid
reflux (Tr. 30). She acknowledged that the hypertension and
acid reflux were attributable to obesity (Tr. 30-31). She had
gained approximately 60 pounds since the April, 2012 accident
typical day, Plaintiff arose at 7:00 a.m. to help her son
prepare for school (Tr. 32). She retired around 9:00 p.m.
(Tr. 32). She experienced sleep disturbances due to pain (Tr.
32). She did not take pain medication due to a dispute with
her insurance company (Tr. 32).
Medical Evidence 
2012 emergency room records note Plaintiff's report of
“sharp pressure-like” low back and buttock pain
following a motor vehicle accident (Tr. 159, 161). Treating
records note back and spine tenderness but a normal range of
extremity motion (Tr. 161). Imaging studies were negative for
fracture or dislocation (Tr. 161, 164, 166, 170-171, 173). An
“Auto Clinic Note” from three days later notes
Plaintiff's report of level “nine” out of ten
neck, right shoulder, lower back, and right knee pain (Tr.
175). Plaintiff reported that she was unable to perform her
job duties due to pain (Tr. 175). She was issued a
“Disability Certificate” limiting her to lifting
10 pounds, good from April 27, 2012 to May 27, 2012 (Tr.
190). An MRI of the cervical spine showed disc bulges at
¶ 3-C4 and C5-C6 with mild encroachment (Tr. 175, 188,
215). An MRI of the lumbar spine showed a disc bulge with
mild encroachment of the epidural space but no disc
herniation (Tr. 187, 213, 216). The study was otherwise
normal (Tr. 187). She was diagnosed with cervical strain and
prescribed Vicodin, Soma, and physical therapy (Tr. 175). She
received a certificate of disability for an additional month
(Tr. 191). In June, 2012, Plaintiff reported ongoing lower
back and knee pain (Tr. 177). She reported some improvement
with physical therapy (Tr. 181). The following month,
Plaintiff was re-prescribed Vicodin after reporting
continuing neck, right, shoulder, and lower back pain (Tr.
179). She was limited to lifting more than 10 pounds until
October 25, 2012 ...