United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
TAMMY S. BEATTY, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT [14, 19]
Honorable Thomas L. Ludington Magistrate Judge David R. Grand
Tammy Beatty (“Beatty”) brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the final
decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under the
Social Security Act (the “Act”). Both parties
have filed summary judgment motions [14, 19], which have been
referred to this Court for a Report and Recommendation
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B).
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) conclusion
that Beatty is not disabled under the Act is not supported by
substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court recommends that
the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment  be
DENIED, Beatty's Motion for Summary
Judgment  be GRANTED IN PART to the
extent it seeks remand and DENIED IN PART to
the extent it seeks an award of benefits, and that, pursuant
to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this case be
REMANDED to the ALJ for further proceedings
consistent with this Recommendation.
January 28, 2014, Beatty filed an application for DIB,
alleging a disability onset date of November 19, 2013. (Tr.
61). This application was initially denied on March 25, 2014.
(Tr. 72-75). Beatty filed a timely request for an
administrative hearing, which was held on May 12, 2015,
before ALJ Paul W. Jones. (Tr. 30-60). Beatty, who was
represented by attorney Clifford Walkon, testified at the
hearing, as did vocational expert Amelia Shelton.
(Id.). On May 22, 2015, the ALJ issued a written
decision finding that Beatty is not disabled under the Act.
(Tr. 14-29). On August 11, 2016, the Appeals Council denied
review. (Tr. 1-7). Beatty timely filed for judicial review of
the final decision on October 1, 2016. (Doc. #1).
Framework for Disability Determinations
the Act, DIB are available only for those who have a
“disability.” See Colvin v. Barnhart,
475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). The Act defines
“disability” as the:
inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by
reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which can be expected to result in death or which
has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period
of not less than 12 months.
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A). The Commissioner's
regulations provide that a disability is to be determined
through the application of a five-step sequential analysis:
Step One: If the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity, benefits are denied without further
Step Two: If the claimant does not have a severe impairment
or combination of impairments that “significantly
limits . . . physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities, ” benefits are denied without further
Step Three: If the claimant is not performing substantial
gainful activity, has a severe impairment that is expected to
last for at least twelve months, and the severe impairment
meets or equals one of the impairments listed in the
regulations, the claimant is conclusively presumed to be
disabled regardless of age, education, or work experience.
Step Four: If the claimant is able to perform his or her past
relevant work, benefits are denied without further analysis.
Step Five: Even if the claimant is unable to perform his or
her past relevant work, if other work exists in the national
economy that the claimant can perform, in view of his or her
age, education, and work experience, benefits are denied.
Scheuneman v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2011 WL
6937331, at *7 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 6, 2011) (citing 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520); see also Heston v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir. 2001). “The
burden of proof is on the claimant throughout the first four
steps …. If the analysis reaches the fifth step
without a finding that claimant is not disabled, the burden
transfers to the [defendant].” Preslar v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 14 F.3d 1107, 1110 (6th
Beatty's Reports and Testimony
time of the administrative hearing, Beatty was 45 years old,
and at 5'7” tall, weighed 220 pounds. (Tr. 33-34).
She was living in a house with her husband, who had problems
with “his neck and his back” and was receiving
disability benefits, and her nineteen year old son, who
worked full time. (Tr. 34-36, 178). Beatty completed high
school and two years of college. She received a certificate
in nursing and previously held a license as a Licensed
Practical Nurse (“LPN”). (Tr. 36-37, 151). She
testified she worked as an LPN for about twenty five years;
however, she stopped working in November, 2013, when her
various conditions became too painful. (Tr. 39, 150, 164).
alleges disability as a result of arthritis, multiple foot
surgeries and related complications, sarcoidosis, migraines,
neuropathy, and hip bursitis. (Tr. 150). With respect to her
feet, Beatty initially had bilateral foot surgeries in 2012.
(Tr. 155). She testified she has had problems with her feet
ever since. (Tr. 39). She indicated she initially stopped
working because she “had an ulcer on her right foot
that wouldn't heal, ” although it was eventually
corrected with foot surgery where “they removed part of
the bone.” (Tr. 39). She also had a “fracture in
[her] right foot that [wouldn't] heal” that
prevented her from putting weight on her ...