United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
STEVEN WHALEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tamar Carter (“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”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under the Social Security
Act. For the reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion
for Remand [Docket #20] is GRANTED, remanding the case to the
administrative level for further administrative proceedings.
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket #19] is
19, 2013, Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI, alleging
disability as of January 1, 2013 (Tr. 148-149, 150-155).
After the initial denial of her claim, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, held on November 25, 2014 in Livonia,
Michigan (Tr. 19, 35). Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Mary Connolly presided. Plaintiff,
represented by attorney Lindsey Fish, testified (Tr. 38-57),
as did Vocational Expert (“VE”) Han Tabsic (Tr.
57-59). On January 27, 2015, ALJ Connolly found Plaintiff not
disabled (Tr. 19-29). On February 1, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied review (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff filed the present
action on March 28, 2016.
born August 8, 1969, was 45 at the time of the administrative
decision (Tr. 29, 148). She attended special education
classes during high school before completing
12thgrade (Tr. 211). Her application for benefits
states that she worked previously as a clothes sorter at a
thrift store, home care giver, housekeeper (hotel),
production worker, and as a temporary worker (Tr. 211). She
alleges disability as a result of schizophrenia, Carpal
Tunnel Syndrome (“CTS”), and arthritis (Tr. 210).
offered the following testimony:
lived in Taylor, Michigan with her sister (Tr. 38, 44). From
2001 to 2003, she worked for a packaging company in the
receiving department inspecting parts (Tr. 38-39). The work
was performed in the standing position and required
“very light” lifting (Tr. 39). She had not worked
since 2011 due to her physical and mental problems (Tr. 39).
She was unable to sit or stand for long periods due to
arthritis of the knees, CTS, and tendinitis (Tr. 40). She
also had back and left shoulder problems (Tr. 40). She had
not undergone surgery for those conditions (Tr. 40). She
received weekly mental health treatment and a monthly
psychiatric review since a seven-day hospitalization in May,
2014 (Tr. 41-42). She currently took Prozac and Seroquel (Tr.
43). Her psychological improvement since beginning treatment
had been slowed by the death of her mother (Tr. 43). She
“heard voices” but did not know whether they were
her “inner thoughts” or audio hallucinations (Tr.
arthritis, Plaintiff required a left knee replacement (Tr.
44). She experienced the left knee symptoms of pain,
numbness, swelling, tingling, and multiple falls (Tr. 44).
She experienced a lesser degree of right knee pain (Tr. 45).
Despite nighttime knee pain, she was able to sleep well due
to the use of Seroquel (Tr. 45). She also experienced
shortness of breath and pain upon climbing stairs or walking
long distances (Tr. 45). She was unable to walk for more than
one block or sit or stand for even 30 minutes (Tr. 46-47).
She experienced left shoulder pain since tearing the rotator
cuff in 2011 (Tr. 47). She also underwent a heart
catherterization (Tr. 48). She drank beer or wine and smoked
marijuana on a regular basis (Tr. 50-51). She had been
advised that her psychotropic medication would work better if
she stopped smoking marijuana (Tr. 51). She was ordered to
stop drinking during a 1999-2000 incarceration (Tr. 51). In
2013, she was jailed for 20 hours on suspicion of assaulting
her step-daughter but was never charged (Tr. 52). Her
driver's license was suspended in 2003 after she failed
to pay traffic tickets (Tr. 52).
used a brace on her right hand for CTS (diagnosed in 2003)
but experienced the condition in both hands (Tr. 54). She
dropped items on a regular basis due to tingling and numbness
(Tr. 55). She experienced difficulty sweeping but was able to
wash dishes (Tr. 56). She also experienced leg and ankle
swelling and maintaining focus (Tr. 55). She avoided
communicating with others in retail situations (Tr. 56). She
had “bad days” three or four days a week at which
time she did not want to get out of bed (Tr. 56). She did not
“get along well with others” (Tr. 57).
Records Related to Plaintiff's
2011 MRI showed a torn left meniscus with osteoarthritis
changes (Tr. 281, 306). An MRI of the lumbar spine showed
forminal narrowing at ¶ 5-S1 with “very
minimal” effect on the exiting nerve roots (Tr. 282,
305). February, 2012 nerve conduction studies showed severe
bilateral CTS and left-sided mild ulnar sensory neuropathy
(Tr. 309, 381). The same month, treating notes by Priti
Bhardwaj, M.D. state that Plaintiff took Vicodin for shoulder
pain (Tr. 318). The following month, an MRI of the left
shoulder showed moderate ...