United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
R. Grand Magistrate Judge
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ;
OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS ;
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT ; AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
J. Tarnow Senior United States District Judge
Eva Malm seeks judicial review of the decision of an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying her
application for disability benefits. Plaintiff filed a Motion
for Summary Judgment [Dkt. 14] on August 6, 2017. Defendant
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment  on November 4, 2017.
March 23, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”)  recommending that
the Court grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment
and deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.
Plaintiff timely filed her Objections  on April 2, 2018.
reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS the
Report and Recommendation . Plaintiff's Objections to
the Report and Recommendation  are
OVERRULED. Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment  is DENIED.
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment  is
R&R summarized the record as follows:
filed prior applications for DIB and SSI on March 9, 2011.
(Tr. 78). On March 13, 2013, ALJ Andrew Henningfeld issued a
decision denying those applications. (Tr. 78-87). On June 24,
2014, the Appeals Council denied review. (Tr. 92-96).
then filed new applications for DIB and SSI on August 11,
2014, alleging disability as of March 14, 2013. (Tr. 205-17).
At the time of that alleged onset date, Malm was 47 years
old. (Tr. 244). She had completed high school but had no
further education. (Tr. 250). Malm has prior work history as
a laborer and press operator, but she stopped working in
January 2014 because of her medical conditions. (Tr. 249-50).
She alleges disability as a result of diabetes (and resulting
neuropathy), arthritis, fibromyalgia, and left ankle pain.
Malm's August 2014 applications for SSI and DIB were
denied at the initial level on September 9, 2014 (Tr. 126-29,
136-39), she timely requested an administrative hearing,
which was held on November 12, 2015, before ALJ Terry Banks.
(Tr. 36-74). Malm, who was represented by attorney Nicole
Thompson, testified at that hearing, along with vocational
expert Joseph Thompson. (Id.). On March 7, 2016, ALJ
Banks issued a partially favorable written decision. (Tr.
16-31). Specifically, ALJ Banks concluded that Malm was not
disabled prior to January 11, 2016; however, she became
disabled as of that date and continued to be disabled through
the date of the decision. (Tr. 30). On February 22, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied review. (Tr. 1-5). Malm timely filed
for judicial review of the final decision on April 20, 2017.
Relevant Medical Evidence
17, 2013, Malm was seen by Toms Mathew, M.D. for diabetes,
arthralgia, and paresthesia. (Tr. 313). An examination of the
upper extremities revealed arthritic changes in the DIP joint
(finger), but no other abnormalities. (Tr. 314). She retained
full strength, bulk, and tone in both upper extremities, and
both hands were non-tender without crepitus or defects.
(Id.). At a follow-up visit to Dr. Mathew on July
29, 2013, examination results remained the same, aside from
diminished sensation in her hands. (Tr. 325-26). Dr. Mathew
saw Malm on at least eleven more occasions between October
2013 and September 2015; at each of these visits, there were
no positive examination findings related to her hands or
fingers. (Tr. 329, 339, 345, 350, 491, 497, 501, 505, 509,
in February 2014, Malm was seen by Zeinab Saleh, M.D., with
complaints of musculoskeletal pain. (Tr. 353-65). She
complained of swelling and tingling in her hands, but noted
that she had been taking Tylenol #3 with some relief. (Tr.
353). On examination, Malm had no swelling in her elbows,
wrists, or finger joints. (Tr. 354). Her hand grip strength
was 4/5, and there was no sign of synovitis. (Id.).
On March 6, 2014, Malm reported that she had been stable, and
a physical examination of her hands remained unchanged. (Tr.
360-61). Dr. Saleh prescribed Neurontin and Tramadol. (Tr.
362). On August 1, 2014, Malm reported that she had stopped
taking this medication after one month and was taking Tylenol
#3 instead. (Tr. 363). On examination, her hand grip strength
remained 4/5, muscle strength and sensation remained intact,
and she was again started on Neurontin. (Tr. 364-65).
was in a car accident in November 2014, after which she began
treating with Judy Macy, M.D., a physical medicine and
rehabilitation specialist. (Tr. 480-81). On December 3, 2014,
Malm reported pain in her neck and upper back; difficulty
moving her cervical spine, upper back, and lower back; and
numbness and tingling in her hands and feet. (Id.).
She was diagnosed with cervical and thoracic spine injuries,
and Dr. Macy issued a note saying she was unable to work in
the factory job she had recently started and needed help with
household replacement services. (Id.). In both
December 2014 and January 2015, Malm saw Dr. Macy with
continued complaints of pain in her neck and back, but no
complaints related to her hands. (Tr. 474, 479). On both
occasions, Dr. Macy again noted that Malm was unable to work.
February 10, 2015, Malm returned to Dr. Macy, reporting that
she had a great deal of pain in her neck and spine, which
radiated into her extremities (right more than left). (Tr.
475). Noting that Malm's neck and right upper extremity
seemed to hurt her the most, Dr. Macy ordered an EMG.
(Id.). At her next visit, on February 24, 2015, Malm
had pain in the back of her neck radiating to both arms and
right shoulder, with numbness and tingling in the arms. (Tr.
469). Along with problems moving both shoulders, Malm also
had “atrophy of the right opponens pollicis muscle more
so than the left.” (Id.). According to Dr.
Macy, EMG testing of the bilateral upper extremities revealed
“[v]ery severe right carpal tunnel syndrome with
absence of the right median sensory distal latency and
evidence of axonal loss in the right opponens pollicis muscle
and a large in the right median motor distal latency”;
moderate left carpal tunnel syndrome; and “evidence of
bilateral cervical radiculopathy… mostly in the left
C6 distribution, but also affecting the right upper extremity
as well and approximately in the right C6
distribution.” (Tr. 470).
March 10, 2015, Malm continued to report pain in her neck,
mid-back, and lower back, as well as her right shoulder. (Tr.
471). There were no complaints related to her hands.
(Id.). Dr. Macy ...