United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
David Douglas Bahnmiller (“Plaintiff”) brings
this action under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), challenging a final
decision of Defendant Commissioner denying his application
for Disability Insurance Benefits under the Social Security
Act. Both parties have filed summary judgment motions. For
the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket #17] is GRANTED to the extent that
the case is REMANDED to the administrative level for further
proceedings. Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
[Docket #19] is DENIED.
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) on March 14, 2014, alleging disability as
of June 1, 2008 (Tr. 130). After the initial denial of the
claim, he requested an administrative hearing, held on
September 29, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan (Tr. 30).
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Joy Turner
presided. Plaintiff, represented by attorney Michael S. Korby
testified (Tr. 35-58), as did Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Harold Cynowa (Tr. 58-62). On December 15,
2015, ALJ Turner found that Plaintiff was not disabled as of
the date last insured (“DLI”) for DIB of December
31, 2013 (Tr. 20-26). On September 15, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied review (Tr. 1-5. Plaintiff filed for judicial
review of the final decision on November 18, 2016.
born January 30, 1960, was 55 when ALJ Turner issued her
decision (Tr. 26, 130). He completed high school and worked
previously as a tool maker (Tr. 144). His application for
benefits alleges disability resulting from arthritis and back
and wrist problems (Tr. 143).
amended the alleged onset of disability date to
Plaintiff's 50th birthday, January 30,
2010 (Tr. 35).
then offered the following testimony:
divorced with two grown children, 28 and 26 (Tr. 35). He
stood 5'11" and weighed 187 pounds (Tr. 35). He had
lost 20 pounds since 2008 (Tr. 35-36). He lived by himself in
Dearborn Heights, Michigan (Tr. 37). He supported himself
with a small pension (Tr. 37).
typically drove two days a week (Tr. 37). Due to right leg
tightness, he avoided situations where he was required to
stand for extended periods (Tr. 37). He was also
uncomfortable sitting (Tr. 37). After finishing high school,
he completed a toolmaker apprenticeship (Tr. 38). He was a
toolmaker for his entire career (Tr. 40). His job required
him to lift up to 100 pounds (Tr. 40). He enjoyed his work
but was unable to do it anymore due to his inability to stand
or sit for any length of time (Tr. 41). He coped by using
gravity boots and massage chairs with infrared heat (Tr. 41).
to the date last insured of December 31, 2013, he received
physical therapy and chiropractic treatment (Tr. 43). He had
attempted to procure another job but experienced extreme
discomfort sitting for even the course of the interview (Tr.
46). As of 2010, he treated his back exclusively with aspirin
and putting cold and hot packs on his back (Tr. 48). He
generally experienced level “eight” out of
“ten” back and lower extremity pain (Tr. 48).
Standing for the time required to make breakfast caused
extreme pain (Tr. 49). He was limited to carrying 10 pounds
on a rare basis and was unable to stand more than 15 minutes
or walk for more than half a block (Tr. 49).
typical day, he would groom himself, drink juice, go over to
his neighbor's home, watch television, and then use a
massage chair and other modalities for about 90 minutes to
relieve his pain (Tr. 51). He spent the rest of the day
alternating between doing chores and resting (Tr 51). He
experienced sleep disturbances as a result of the pain (Tr.
52). He required multiple daytime naps due to both sleep
disturbances and generalized fatigue (Tr. 52). He was able to
do “a little bit of laundry” thanks to a front
loader that was “up high” so he was not required
to bend (Tr. 53). He traveled with a rubber chair if he
anticipated that he would be required to sit for extended
periods (Tr. 54). He experienced balance problems (Tr. 54).
Plaintiff listened to YouTube videos on his smartphone for
entertainment (Tr. 54). The back problems were originally
caused by occupational overwork (Tr. 55).
response to questioning by his attorney, Plaintiff reiterated
that chores such as shopping trips took no more than 30
minutes and that he needed rest time before and after doing
the chore (Tr. 56). After doing a chore, he experienced
extreme pain for the rest of the day (Tr. 56). He coped with
post-chore discomfort by taking a hot bath, stretching, or
using ice packs (Tr. 56). A neurological surgeon had recently
recommended back surgery, noting that Plaintiff could become
paralyzed or have a stroke or heart attack as a result of
untreated spinal problems (Tr. 57).
Records Related to Plaintiff's Treatment
March, 2013, Plaintiff sought treatment from Ghadi G.
Ghorayeb, M.D., reporting ongoing back pain and right leg
numbness since 2001 (Tr. 184). He reported that he had been
self-managing the pain with massage and heat (Tr. 184). He
denied the use of pain medication (Tr. 184). Dr. Ghorayeb
diagnosed Plaintiff with low back pain, lumbar sprain and
strain, and an unspecified disc disorder (Tr. 185). An MRI
from later the same month showed L5 spondylolysis with severe
foramina narrowing (Tr. 187-189). Following the MRI, Dr.
Ghorayeb diagnosed Plaintiff with spondylolysis with
myelopathy (Tr. 190). He referred Plaintiff for physical
therapy (Tr. 190). Physical therapy records note
Plaintiff's report of level “five” pain on
average, “three to four” at best, and
“nine” at worst (Tr. 243). He characterized his
pain as “tingling, ” “penetrating, ”
and “numbing” (Tr. 245). The records noted that
Plaintiff was unable to sit for more than five minutes or
stand for more than 15 (Tr. 249).
November, 2013, Dr. Ghorayeb treated Plaintiff for
hemorrhoids, noting “muscle aches [and] back
pain” (Tr. 193). In March, 2014, Dr. Ghorayeb noted
Plaintiff's report of ongoing back pain (Tr. 196). Dr.
Ghorayeb referred Plaintiff to a spine specialist (Tr. 196).
An MRI of the lumbar spine taken after Plaintiff sought
emergency treatment showed grade 2 spondylolisthesis at
“L5 over S1” (Tr. 201, 220). Roderick Claybrooks,
M.D. noted that Plaintiff was unable to sit or stand for more
than three minutes at a time (Tr. 204). Plaintiff reported
that he had been disabled since June, 2008 (Tr. 205). Dr.
Claybrooks noted that the clinical and imaging studies showed
the need for surgical intervention (Tr. 206). Plaintiff
reported that he was “not interested in surgery”
at present (Tr. 206). In September, 2014, Plaintiff reported
continued back pain and leg pain, weakness and ...