United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Leah Mullendore (“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”) under the Social
Security Act. Both parties have filed summary judgment
motions. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket #28] is GRANTED and
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket #19] is
October 5, 2012, Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging
disability as of September 30, 2011 (Tr. 150). Upon initial
denial of the claim, Plaintiff requested an administrative
hearing, held on April 30, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland (Tr.
32). Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Scott M.
Staller presided. Plaintiff, represented by counsel,
testified from Michigan by teleconference (Tr. 37-59).
Vocational Expert (“VE”) James Prim also
testified (Tr. 59-64). On July 18, 2014, ALJ Staller found
that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 17-26). On December 14,
2015, the Appeals Council denied review (Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff
filed suit in this Court on February 13, 2016.
born May 29, 1968, was 45 at the time of the administrative
decision (Tr. 26). She left school after eighth grade and
worked previously as a boat assembler and producer of lottery
tickets (Tr. 176-177). She alleges disability as a result of
hypertension, a thyroid condition, hyperlipidemia, headaches,
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (“COPD”),
depression, and problems of the hand, wrist, arm, neck, and
spine (Tr. 175).
counsel prefaced the testimony by amending the alleged onset
of disability date to August 31, 2010 (Tr. 35).
then offered the following testimony:
stood 5' 4", weighed 184, and was left-handed (Tr.
36-37). She was able to drive (Tr. 37). Her work producing
lottery tickets involved production work, a security check
position, and data input (Tr. 38). The work required her to
lift up to 35 pounds (Tr. 39). She also worked previously for
a manufacturer of boat doors performing assembly line work
(Tr. 39). The assembly work required her to lift up to 50
pounds (Tr. 39).
stopped working after experienced shoulder problems and
fatigue (Tr. 40). She also experienced constant neck pain
which radiated into her left shoulder and arm (Tr. 40). She
attributed the neck pain to four bulging cervical discs (Tr.
41). She experienced left hand numbness due to Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome (“CTS”) (Tr. 41). Breathing problems
required the use of inhalers (Tr. 41).
also experienced depression, characterized by conflicts
(including physical conflicts) with others (Tr. 42). She last
hit someone around two months before the hearing (Tr. 42).
She experienced panic attacks up to four times a week for
which she took Xanax She was no longer interested in work or
her former pastime of walking (Tr. 43). At present, she drank
alcohol occasionally, but in the past, had abused alcohol
(Tr. 43). She had not used marijuana since 2008 (Tr. 44). She
experienced anxiety as a passenger in a car and when engaged
in a conflict with family members (Tr. 56).
typical day, Plaintiff would spend most of her time watching
television, icing her back, using an inhaler, and attending
doctors' appointments (Tr. 44). She spent around six
hours each day sitting in a recliner with her feet elevated
(Tr. 54). Plaintiff's daughter drove Plaintiff and
Plaintiff's mother to the doctors' appointments (Tr.
45). Plaintiff was able to prepare crockpot dishes, deep
fried food, and microwavable meals (Tr. 45). She cooked up to
four times a week and was able to care for her personal needs
(Tr. 45). She was able to perform the “picking
up” aspects of housework and grocery shopped up to
twice a week (Tr. 46). Her daughter helped her prepare Sunday
dinner, fill out paperwork, and pick up prescriptions (Tr.
back pain, neck pain, and hand numbness prevented Plaintiff
from sleeping more than six hours a night (Tr. 47). She used
a neck brace at night (Tr. 57). She took medication for
hyperlipidemia, hypertension, respiratory problems, back
pain, and depression (Tr. 47-48). Her discomfort was not
relieved with medication and she experienced the medication
side effects of “dizziness, sleepiness, [and]
aching” (Tr. 49). She had experienced dizziness en
route to the hearing and had fallen as a result of dizziness
the previous summer (Tr. 52).
characterized her back pain, with medication, as a
“seven” on a scale of one to ten (Tr. 49). Her
lower back pain radiated into her left leg and left foot (Tr.
50). She experienced level “six or seven”
headaches due to either neck pain or a migraine-like
condition every day (Tr. 51). The migraine headaches lasted
for up to two days (Tr. 51). She coped with the headaches by
reclining (Tr. 51). She was able to stand for around 20
minutes before requiring a position change (Tr. 55). She was
unable to lift more than 10 pounds or stoop or crouch (Tr.
55). She experienced difficulty turning her neck (Tr. 58).
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