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Ogden v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

August 1, 2018

NAROTHA LAVERENE OGDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

         OPINION AND ORDER (1) SUSTAINING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF #23) TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF #22), (2) GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #17), (3) DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF #20), AND (4) REMANDING THIS ACTION FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          MATTHEW F. LEITMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this action, Plaintiff Narotha Laverene Ogden challenges the denial of her application for disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. (See Compl., ECF #1.) Both Ogden and Defendant Commissioner of Social Security filed motions for summary judgment. (See Ogden's Mot. for Summ. J., ECF #17; Commissioner's Mot. for Summ. J., ECF #20.) The assigned Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation in which she recommended that the Court (1) grant the Commissioner's motion and (2) deny Ogden's motion (the “R&R”). (See ECF #22.) Ogden has now filed objections to the R&R (the “Objections”). (See ECF #23.) For the reasons explained below, the Court SUSTAINS Ogden's Objections in part, GRANTS Ogden's motion for summary judgment, DENIES the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, and REMANDS this action to the Commissioner for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion and Order.

         I

         A[1]

         On May 8, 2014, Ogden filed an application for disability insurance benefits in which she claimed to have been disabled since November 22, 2013. (See Admin. R., ECF #11-5 at Pg. ID 155-56.) The Social Security Administration (the “SSA”) initially denied Ogden's application for benefits on the ground that she was not disabled. (See Admin. R., ECF #11-4 at Pg. ID 114.) Ogden thereafter requested and received a de novo hearing before an administrative law judge (the “ALJ”). The ALJ held that hearing on March 25, 2016. (See Admin. R., ECF #11-2 at Pg. ID 51-60.)

         At the hearing, Ogden testified that she last worked in November 2013 as an assembly-line worker for General Motors. (See Id. at Pg. ID 76-77.) However, due to pain in her left shoulder, she was placed on “restrict[ed]” duty. (Id. at Pg. ID 77.) Among her things, Ogden's restrictions prohibited her from “reaching over [her] shoulder” with both arms. (Id. at Pg. ID 78.) According to Ogden, “everything had to be, like, shoulder length, eye level, ” and she could not “reach up” above her shoulder. (Id.) At or around this time, General Motors let “everybody that was on restrictions [go] for the end of the year, ” and Ogden did not work again after that time due to her shoulder pain. (Id. at Pg. ID 77.)

         On May 3, 2016, the ALJ issued a written decision in which he affirmed the SSA's denial of benefits. (See Id. at Pg. ID 51-60.) The ALJ first found that Ogden suffered from the following severe impairments: “cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease, left shoulder rotator cuff tear, tenosynovitis, [and] obesity.” (Id. at Pg. ID 53.) The ALJ next concluded that none of Ogden's severe impairments “met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments.” (Id.)

         The ALJ determined that Ogden had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with the following limitations:

[Ogden] can list 10 points occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently, however, lifting and carrying independently with the left upper extremity is limited to no more than 5 pounds; can sit, stand, or walk, each for 6 out of 8 hours; push and pull as much as can lift and carry, but also limited to no more than frequent pushing and pulling with the left upper extremity at less than 5 pounds; frequent use of hand controls with the left upper extremity; no reaching overhead with the left upper extremity; frequent handling and fingering with the left upper extremity; occasional climbing of ramps or stairs; never climb ladders or scaffolds; frequent balancing; occasional stopping, kneeling, crouching, or crawling.

(Id. at Pg. ID 54.)

         At this step of the analysis, the ALJ noted that Ogden testified that “she ha[d] difficulty reaching overhead.” (Id. at Pg. ID 55.) The ALJ also acknowledged that while working at General Motors, Ogden “had [a] restriction of no lifting over 5 pounds and no overhead work or lifting at or above shoulder level with the left arm.” (Id. at Pg. ID 56.) However, the RFC did not include any restrictions with respect to “lifting at or above shoulder level.” Instead, the relevant restriction was limited to “no overhead reaching with the left upper extremity.” (Id. at Pg. ID 54.)

         The ALJ determined that, given Ogden's RFC, she could perform her past relevant work as a quality control monitor. (See Id. at Pg. ID 60.) The ALJ therefore concluded that Ogden was not disabled and was not entitled to benefits. (See id.)

         The Appeals Council of the Social Security Commission thereafter denied Ogden request to review the ALJ's ...


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