United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
KIMBERLY K. LEDFORD, Plaintiff
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
R.STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kimberly K. Ledford (“Plaintiff”) brings this
action under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), challenging a final
decision of Defendant Commissioner (“Defendant”)
denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security
Act. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment [Docket #18] is GRANTED and
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket #12] is
April 3, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB
alleging disability as of July 4, 2012 (Tr. 121-127). After
the initial denial of the claim, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, held on August 1, 2014 before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Jerome Blum (Tr.
32). Plaintiff, represented by attorney Heidi G. Walkon,
testified (Tr. 34-50), as did Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Cheryl Mosley (Tr. 50-56). On September
15, 2014, ALJ Blum found that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr.
14-27). On May 5, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review
(Tr. 1-5). Plaintiff filed for judicial review of the final
decision in this Court on June 8, 2016. Docket #1.
born April 9, 1960, was 54 when ALJ Blum issued his decision
(Tr. 27, 121). She completed 11th grade and
received training as a bartender (Tr. 151). She worked as the
manager of a grocery store between 1992 and 2011 (Tr. 151).
She alleges disability resulting from brain damage, a heart
attack, neuropathy, ecoli, and liver and kidney failure (Tr.
offered the following testimony:
hospitalized in July, 2012, during which time she required
the use of a ventilator (Tr. 35). She also experienced a
heart attack and stroke (Tr. 35). At the time of the hearing,
she experienced lower leg, foot, and hand neuropathy (Tr.
35). The conditions were brought on by a combination of
alcohol and “a really bad urinary tract
infection” (Tr. 35). She worked as a grocery store
manager for 19 years before the store was sold (Tr. 35).
After losing her job, she became depressed and began drinking
excessively (Tr. 36). She stopped drinking at the time of her
July, 2012 hospitalization, but continued to smoke a half
pack of cigarettes each day (Tr. 36, 38).
attended physical therapy twice a week to reduce the foot
numbness (Tr. 39). She took Neurontin for the foot numbness,
Hydrocodone for pain, and antidepressive medication (Tr.
39-40). Her most comfortable position was lying down (Tr.
40). She experienced foot pain while sitting (Tr. 41). She
was unable to sit, stand, or walk for more than 30 minutes
without requiring a change of position (Tr. 41).
lived in a ranch house but was unable to use the basement
stairs (Tr. 41). She relied on either her husband or children
to cook, do laundry, and clean (Tr. 42). She experienced the
medication side effects of dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness
(Tr. 43). She experienced memory problems (Tr. 43). Before
July, 2012 she used a computer rarely and since the
hospitalization, had never used a computer (Tr. 43). She
would be unable to return to her former job due to her
inability to perform the walking requirements and her
inability to use a cash register (Tr. 44). As a result of
hand problems, she experienced difficulty opening jars and
other fine manipulative activities (Tr. 45). She had been
diagnosed with moderate neuropathy and moderate Carpal Tunnel
Syndrome (“CTS”) (Tr. 45). Her symptoms of
neuropathy and CTS waxed and waned (Tr. 46). She experienced
“bad days” around two days a week at which time
she spent most of the day in bed (Tr. 46).
had medical insurance and treated with a neurologist once a
month (Tr. 46). She received electromagnetic and massage
treatment (Tr. 46). The neuropathy was the result of
excessive alcohol use (Tr. 48).
Records Related to Plaintiff's Treatment
2012 discharge records by St. John Macomb Hospital state that
Plaintiff sought emergency treatment on July 8, 2012 for
jaundice, abdominal pain, mental status changes, nausea, and
a history of alcohol abuse with “possible liver
cirrhosis, ” and “acute alcoholic
poisoning” (Tr. 176, 180, 208-209, 213). She also
exhibited symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome including
“agitation and paranoia” (Tr. 176, 206). She was
diagnosed with a heart attack, anemia, reflux esophagitis,
and a urinary tract infection (“UTI”) (Tr. 176,
201). She admitted that before her hospitalization, she drank
a fifth of vodka every day (Tr. 203). After being admitted,
she developed respiratory failure requiring the use of a
ventilator (Tr. 176, 229). A CT of the brain was unremarkable
(Tr. 221). Imaging studies of the kidneys were unremarkable
September, 2012, neurologist Haranath Policherla, M.D.
performed an initial evaluation of Plaintiff, noting her
reports of dizziness, coordination problems, right foot pain,
left upper extremity pain, snoring, concentrational problems,
and depression (Tr. 297). She admitted that she continued to
smoke (Tr. 298). Dr. Policherla observed a cervical tremor
and the inability to heel and toe walk (Tr. 298). He noted
full strength in the upper extremities (Tr. 298). He noted
possible alcohol-related mild dementia, alcoholic neuropathy,
daytime somnolence due to sleep apnea, and mild amnesic
syndrome (Tr. 299). The same month, internist Radha
Paruchuri, M.D. noted Plaintiff's report of normal sleep
patterns but fatigue (Tr. 311). Plaintiff denied dizziness
(Tr. 311). She reported numbness of the tip of her toes (Tr.
October, MRI of the brain showed “minimal”
chronic small vessel disease (Tr. 245). Clinical testing from
the same month showed obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (Tr.
266). Dr. Policherla found the presence of mild alcoholic
dementia, bilateral hand numbness, dizziness, and CTS (Tr.
261). He noted full motor strength in the upper extremities
(Tr. 258). In November, 2012 Dr. Policherla noted coherent
speech and full orientation (Tr. 256). She exhibited full
strength in the upper extremities but limited strength in the
right lower ...