United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
District Judge Sean F. Cox
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tracy Earlene Mathews (“Plaintiff”) brings this
action under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), challenging Defendant
Commissioner's (“Defendant's”) denial of
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act. The parties have filed
motions for summary judgment which have been referred for a
Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons discussed below, I
recommend that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
[Docket #21] be GRANTED, and that Plaintiff's Motions for
Summary Judgment [Docket #15, Docket #29] be
November 27, 2013 Plaintiff applied for SSI, alleging
disability as of November 5, 2013 (Tr. 147). Following the
initial denial of benefits, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, held on March 24, 2015 (Tr. 32).
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Patrick MacLean
presided. Plaintiff, represented by attorney Madelyn Olcasek,
testified (Tr. 38-67), as did Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Pauline McEachin (Tr. 68-70). On July 13,
2015, ALJ MacLean found that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr.
12-23). On June 29, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review
(Tr. 1-4). Plaintiff filed the present action on July 11,
born January 29, 1964, was 51 at the time of the
administrative determination (Tr. 23, 147). She completed
college and worked previously as a teacher and educational
consultant (Tr. 172). She alleges disability due to diabetes,
hypertension, brain tumors, osteoarthritis of the neck and
back, thyroid tumors, costochondritis, and other medical
conditions (Tr. 171).
counsel prefaced her client's testimony by noting
allegations of “chronic back pain, hip pain, and knee
pain owing to osteoarthritis” as well as hyperhidrosis
of the feet, diabetes with neuropathy of the feet, an
adjustment disorder, and a mood disorder (Tr. 36-37).
then offered the following testimony:
held an Associates Degree from Wayne County Community
College; a Bachelor's Degree from Wayne State University
in Journalism and Political Science; and a Master's
Degree in Business from the University of Phoenix (Tr. 38).
Following the alleged onset of disability, she was evicted
from her home in Detroit and now lived in subsidized housing
(Tr. 39). Between the time of her eviction and her current
placement, she lived with either friends or in a shelter
between three and four months (Tr. 39). She now prepared
“raw food” for breakfast to combat the conditions
of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol (Tr. 41). She
was able to keep up with housekeeping chores in her small
apartment (Tr. 42). She got a ride to a Laundromat around
once a month and got a ride, took a bus, or walked to a
nearby grocery store (Tr. 42). She held a valid driver's
license but did not have access to a car (Tr. 42-43). She
took a bus about twice a week, primarily to go to the library
to use a computer to look for part-time jobs (Tr. 43). She
walked approximately four blocks to catch a bus (Tr. 44).
financial limitations and body pain, Plaintiff's leisure
activities were limited to watching television and reading
(Tr. 45). Headaches resulting from a head injury prevented
her from reading for long periods (Tr. 45). She attended
church or Bible study on a regular basis (Tr. 46). The
condition of hyperhidrosis made her feet hot and sweaty,
requiring her to put her feet in cold water on occasion (Tr.
49). She also experienced diabetic neuropathy of the feet and
the condition of flat feet (Tr. 50). She took Tylenol and
Naproxen for pain (Tr. 50). She had been prescribed
Gabapentin but experienced the side effect of drowsiness (Tr.
osteoarthritis of the neck, back, and hips, Plaintiff
generally changed positions after sitting, standing, or
walking for 15 to 20 minutes (Tr. 52-53). She did not require
the use of a cane (Tr. 54). She took Trileptal for the mental
health conditions (Tr. 55). The Trileptal improved her
condition intermittently (Tr. 55). She reported the overall
effect of grogginess from her medications (Tr. 55). She had
been seeing a nurse practitioner for the mental health
conditions for around 10 months (Tr. 56). She had recently
applied for a clerical position at a local hospital and was
interested in working part-time (Tr. 56). She was unable to
read for more than 15 minutes at a time due to headaches (Tr.
57). She used the library computer twice a week for both job
searches and other internet searches (Tr. 59). She got along
“okay” with others (Tr. 60).
response to questioning by her attorney, Plaintiff reported
that she obtained good results from chiropractic treatment
but that the frequency of treatment was compromised by
financial constraints (Tr. 60). In addition to the above
discussed medical and psychological conditions, Plaintiff
experienced rashes periodically on her chest, arms, and legs
Records Related to Plaintiff's Treatment
April and May, 2013, chiropractor David Sandler, D.C. treated
Plaintiff for “neck [and] mid and lower back pain and
stiffness” (Tr. 214). Plaintiff reported good results
from treatment (Tr. 214-218). In May, 2013, podiatrist David
S. Ungar, D.P.M. noted that Plaintiff's “chief
complaint” was “generalized pain in arches and
ankles” (Tr. 213). He gave her a “good”
prognosis (Tr. 213). Plaintiff reported good results from
orthotic devices (Tr. 256, 264). Notes from the next month by
the Wayne State University Physician Group note diagnoses of
hypertension, asthma (resolved), hyperlipidemia, pituitary
problems, upper back surgery for a lipoma, and migraine
headaches (Tr. 220). The following month, Plaintiff sought
treatment for hyperhidrosis and a rash (Tr. 251-252). She
reported anxiety due to financial stressors and occasional
pelvic pain due to fibroids (Tr. 495, 497). September, 2013
records state that she experienced “chronic back and
neck pain without red flag symptoms” for which she was
unable to see a physical therapist due to insurance
limitations (Tr. 489-490). Treating records state that she
had been prescribed exercises but failed to perform them
regularly (Tr. 490). She had previously been prescribed
Naproxen based on her report musculoskeletal pain (Tr. 490).
Notes from the following month state that the “chronic
back pain” was “under control with home exercise
program” (Tr. 484). In December, 2013, Plaintiff sought
emergency treatment for a headache after being “pistol
whipped” during the course of a robbery (Tr. 225). She
did not exhibit disorientation, double vision, weakness,
hearing loss, seizures, neck pain, or nausea (Tr. 225, 228).
Plaintiff noted a medical history of hypertension, diabetes,
and dermatitis (Tr. 225). A CT was unremarkable (Tr.
2014 records note an elevated white blood count (Tr. 298).
Plaintiff reported that she was otherwise feeling well (Tr.
298). She reported a history of diabetes as well as
osteoarthritis of the spine and neck (Tr. 299). A March, 2014
eye exam was unremarkable (Tr. 457). Dr. Ungar's May,
2014 records note Plaintiff's report of depression,
hypertension, diabetes, and prior foot surgery (Tr. 254). A
mammogram was negative for malignancy (Tr. 526). May, 2014
records also state that she ...