Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lamonte v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 31, 2017

James M. Lamonte, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MONA K. MAJZOUB U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [21]; OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION [22]; DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [14]; GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [15]; AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ORDER PERMITTING THE SUPPLEMENTING OF THE TRANSCRIPT [16]

          Arthur J. Tarnow, Senior United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff James Lamonte seeks judicial review of the decision of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying his application for disability benefits. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. 14] on May 7, 2016. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [15] on June 6, 2016. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript [16] on June 8, 2016.

         On February 21, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation [21] recommending that the Court grant Plaintiff's Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript, deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, and grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Timely objections were filed in this matter. [22].

         For the reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation [21]. Plaintiff's Objection to the Report and Recommendation [22] is OVERRULED. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [14] is DENIED. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [15] is GRANTED. Plaintiff's Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript [16] is GRANTED.

         Factual Background

         The R&R summarized the record as follows:

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits with a protective filing date of December 11, 2012, alleging that he had been disabled since June 30, 2011. (TR 14; 94-97.) The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's claims on March 6, 2013, and Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing. (TR 61-64, 67-68.) On April 18, 2014, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at the hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Timothy Christensen. (TR 31-49.) In a June 25, 2014 decision, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits because he was capable of performing a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (TR 23-24.) The Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision (TR 1-5), and Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review. The parties then filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the Court. (Docket nos. 14, 15.) Plaintiff responded to Defendant's Motion. (Docket no. 19.) Plaintiff also filed a Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript (docket no. 16), to which Defendant responded (docket no. 18), and Plaintiff filed a Reply (docket no. 20.)

         II. Hearing Testimony and Medical Evidence

         Plaintiff (docket no. 14 at 3-13) and Defendant (docket no. 15 at 4-12) each set out a detailed, factual recitation with regard to Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing testimony. The ALJ also discusses Plaintiff's medical record and hearing testimony throughout his decision. (TR 16-23.) Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies among these recitations of the record. Therefore, the undersigned incorporates the factual recitations by reference. Additionally, the undersigned will include comments and citations to the record as necessary throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         There is a preliminary issue relating to the medical record evidence in this case. In compiling the transcript for the court's review, the Appeals Council excluded a single page from a questionnaire completed by Plaintiff's long-time treating physician, Dr. Mumtaz George, M.D., for the stated reason that “it did not pertain to the claimant.” (TR 255.) In his Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript (docket no. 16), Plaintiff submits the excluded page and presents an affidavit from Plaintiff's attorney's legal secretary, Ms. Maria Carmon, explaining that she erroneously neglected to change the client's name on that particular page before submitting the questionnaire to Dr. George to complete, but that Dr. George's answers on that page in fact do relate to Plaintiff. (Docket no. 16-1.) Plaintiff seeks to include the page in the record for the court's consideration. Defendant objects, arguing that there is no authority to support the supplementation of the record by the court after it has been certified by the Commissioner. (Docket no. 18.) Defendant also disputes that the page actually relates to Plaintiff.

         It is apparent from the document that the page pertains to Plaintiff. It was signed by Dr. George the same day as the other pages in the questionnaire, and these other pages do identify Plaintiff as the patient. (See Docket no. 16-4 at 4-8). Moreover, the undersigned has no reason to doubt the veracity of Ms. Carmon's affidavit. And, as both parties note, when a claimant commences an action for judicial review, the Commissioner is required to “file a certified copy of the transcript of the record including the evidence upon which the findings and decision complained of are based.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). In this case, the ALJ expressly relied on the excluded page when making his determination, as is evidenced by the fact that he cites to it on page 8 of 12 of his decision. (See TR 21 (citing pages 43 and 45 of Exhibit 6F, which is the questionnaire at issue).) The undersigned therefore recommends that Plaintiff's Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript (docket no. 16) be granted, and that the court also consider the page to the extent necessary to review this Report and Recommendation.

         III. Administrative Law Judge's Determination

         Turning to the substantive issues, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2015; that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of June 30, 2011; and that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety disorder. (TR 16.) Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments, either individually or when combined, did not meet or medically equal the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 16-19.) The ALJ then found that Plaintiff's allegations regarding the extent of his symptoms were not “entirely credible” and that Plaintiff had the following Residual Functional Capacity (RFC):

[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: . . . would require simple, routine tasks with only occasional changes in the work setting and only brief and superficial contact with others. (TR 19.)

         The ALJ questioned a qualified Vocational Expert (VE) regarding whether there would be any jobs available for a person with Plaintiff's RFC. (TR 49-50.) The VE testified that there would be, and gave examples of simple janitorial work, housekeeping/office cleaning, and benchwork including sorting, assembly and product finishing. (TR 46.) Subsequently, in reliance on the testimony of the Vocational Expert (VE), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (TR 23-24.) Therefore, the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.