United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
KEREN R. PLUMMER, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
ACCEPTING AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (#19),
OVERRULING DEFENDANT'S FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH,
FIFTH, SIXTH, SEVENTH, NINTH AND TENTH OBJECTIONS (#20),
SUSTAINING DEFENDANT'S EIGHTH OBJECTION (#20) GRANTING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (#13), DENYING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (#17), AND
REMANDING THE CASE FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the parties' Cross Motions
for Summary Judgment pertaining to Plaintiff Keren
Plummer's claim for judicial review of Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security's denial of her
application for supplemental security income benefits. The
matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris,
who issued a Report and Recommendation on May 31, 2017,
recommending the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment
be granted, Defendant Commissioner's Motion for Summary
Judgment be denied, and Plaintiff's case be remanded for
further proceedings. Defendant filed objections to the Report
and Recommendation on June 7, 2017.
reasons discussed below, the Court accepts and adopts the
Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation and
concludes that the findings of the Commissioner are not
supported by substantial evidence, and therefore entry of
remand for further proceedings is warranted.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 636 sets forth the standard of review used
by the Court when examining a report and recommendation. The
Court, “shall make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C). This Court has the power to,
“accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
district court may affirm, modify or reverse the
Commissioner's decision, with or without remand.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Under § 405(g),
the courts have limited power regarding the
Commissioner's decision, “the findings of the
commissioner of social security as to any fact if supported
by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.”
Id. Substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance and is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” McClanahan v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 833 (6th Cir.
2006) (quoting Besaw v. Sec'y of Health and Human
Servs., 966 F.2d 1028, 1030 (6th Cir. 1976).
Commissioner's Mental Health Related Objections (#1
report and recommendation, the magistrate judge concludes
that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's
conclusion with respect to the Plaintiff's mental health
conditions. Specifically, the magistrate judge found that the
ALJ mischaracterized Plaintiff's mental health as stable
and improving over time. For instance, the magistrate judge
concluded that the ALJ improperly determined that
Plaintiff's low GAF scores of thirty-seven and forty-two
were not representative of her “ongoing normal
functionality.” Based on this conclusion, the ALJ
afforded little weight to these low GAF scores. Reviewing the
totality of the medical records, Plaintiff's testimony
and the other record evidence, the magistrate judge found
that the ALJ erred in concluding that Plaintiff's low GAF
scores were during a period of exacerbation and not
reflective of her normal mental functioning.
Commissioner objects to the magistrate judge's conclusion
and argues that “[t]he ALJ permissibly discounted the
2013 GAF scores[.]” Contrary to the Commissioner's
objection, the magistrate judge correctly concluded that the
ALJ's decision to afford little weight to the
Plaintiff's low GAF scores was inconsistent with the
other record evidence.
GAF score is a ‘subjective rating of an
individual's overall psychological functioning, '
which may assist an ALJ in assessing a claimant's mental
RFC.” Miller v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 811
F.3d 825, 835 (6th Cir. 2016) (quoting Kennedy v.
Astrue, 247 F. App'x 761, 766 (6th Cir. 2007)). The
Miller court noted that courts must “take a
case-by-case approach to the value of GAF scores.”
Id. at 836.
supported her decision to afford little weight to
Plaintiff's low GAF scores based on Plaintiff's
“activities of daily living, her presentation during
the hearings, and her lack of taking prescribed medications
suggest that she is much more capable than the progress notes
from the Monroe Community Mental Health ...