United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
District Judge Matthew F. Leitman
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Kerri Lynn Lonc (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), challenging a final decision of
Defendant Commissioner denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under the Social
Security Act. The parties have filed cross-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 #12] be GRANTED and that
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket #11] be
February 4, 2015, Plaintiff applied for DIB, alleging
disability as of December 13, 2011 (Tr. 157). After the
initial denial of her claim, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, held on October 3, 2016 in Livonia,
Michigan (Tr. 29). Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Mary S. Connolly presided. Plaintiff,
represented by attorney Gerald Skupin, testified (Tr. 33-46),
as did Vocational Expert (“VE”) Larissa A. Boase
(Tr. 16, 47-49). On November 16, 2016, ALJ Connolly found
Plaintiff not disabled (Tr. 16-24). On December 15, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied review (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff filed the
present action on February 13, 2018.
born October 26, 1968, was 48 at the time of the
administrative decision (Tr. 24, 157). She graduated from
high school and worked previously as a secretary and stocker
(Tr. 186). She alleges disability as a result of left
shoulder problems (Tr. 185).
offered the following testimony:
She lived in Livonia, Michigan with her husband and two
children (Tr. 33-35). She sustained a workplace shoulder
injury on December 13, 2011 and settled a case against her
employer for $30, 000 (Tr. 34). In 2012 through 2014, she
worked “on and off” as a greeter at JCPenney (Tr.
34). She worked for around 20 hours a week (Tr. 35). She
attempted unsuccessfully to work as a cashier (Tr. 34). She
was able to drive (Tr. 35).
response to questioning by her attorney, Plaintiff reported
that she was unable to work as a cashier due to her inability
to use her left arm to bag purchases (Tr. 35). She was also
unable to hold her arm up long enough to use a computer (Tr.
35). While working as a greeter, she held her left arm at her
side or in a pocket (Tr. 36). When not at work, she propped
her left arm up with a pillow and alternatively applied ice
and heat to her shoulder up to five times a day (Tr. 36). The
shoulder pain radiated to her neck and down her back (Tr.
36). She was unable to exercise her shoulder for more than a
minute due to pain (Tr. 37).
had undergone around 140 physical therapy sessions before her
most recent surgery (Tr. 37). The therapy helped to avoid
shoulder stiffness (Tr. 37). Wearing a sling increased her
muscle stiffness (Tr. 38). She stopped therapy after failing
to experience further improvement (Tr. 38). In 2016, she
scheduled a consultation with Dr. Carpenter to see if she
could increase her shoulder mobility (Tr. 39). Dr. Carpenter
advised her to “let it go for another year” and
avoid physical therapy and shoulder exercises (Tr. 39-40).
the shoulder pain, Plaintiff experienced sleep disturbances
and daytime drowsiness (Tr. 40). She was unable to use a blow
dryer, fold clothes, or get dishes out of the cupboard (Tr.
40). The shoulder condition caused neck and mid-back pain
(Tr. 41). She experienced back discomfort from standing and
walking (Tr. 42). She experienced diabetes but the condition
was well managed (Tr. 42). She had also been diagnosed with a
generalized anxiety disorder in March, 2016 but had not
received mental health treatment (Tr. 42). Her activities
were not limited because of anxiety (Tr. 42-43).
typical day, Plaintiff showered, sat, prepared breakfast,
sat, and iced/heated the shoulder (Tr. 43). She took her
daughter to the grocery store with her due to the inability
to push a grocery cart (Tr. 43). The shoulder condition had
worsened since the 2011 injury (Tr. 43). She participated in
social media, communicated with others online, and was able
to text (Tr. 44). She attended church twice a week but did
not engage in other non-internet social activity (Tr. 44).
She visiting her extended family “up north” on
occasion (Tr. 45). She was unable to drive the entire
distance but could make the trip as a passenger (Tr. 45). She
did not experience cardiac issues (Tr. 46).
Records Related to Plaintiff's
2011 records by Theresa Poppe, M.D. note Plaintiff's
report of back problems but an unremarkable MRI of the lumbar
spine (Tr. 729). In December, 2011, Plaintiff sought
emergency treatment one day after feeling a
“tear” of the left shoulder while lifting a box
at work (Tr. 292). She showed a good range of shoulder motion
(Tr. 285). February, 2012 records by Jeffrey E. Lawley, D.O.
note that she was currently restricted to lifting 20 pounds
with “avoidance of over-the-shoulder” work with
the left hand (Tr. 289). He noted that an MRI of the left
shoulder taken after the accident showed left rotator cuff
tendinosis with a full thickness tear of the supraspinatus
tendon (Tr. 287-289, 310, 456, 764). Plaintiff exhibited a
limited ability to reach with the left upper extremity (Tr.
March 5, 2012, Dr. Lawley performed an arthroscopic rotator
cuff repair (Tr. 313-314, 318-319). June, 2012 physical
therapy records note Plaintiff's history of back pain
predating the December, 2011 injury by several years (Tr.
508). Plaintiff denied limitations in walking, driving, or in
cognitive functioning (Tr. 509). In July, 2012, Plaintiff
underwent a followup procedure for adhesive capsulitis
(frozen shoulder) (Tr. 329, 331-332). Physical therapy
records note a “good” rehabilitation potential
(Tr. 581). Physical therapy records and Dr. Lawley's
treating notes from the next month note Plaintiff's
increased range of shoulder motion (Tr. 364, 538). Dr. Lawley
directed her to continue performing physical therapy and
daily home exercises (Tr. 364). He noted that Plaintiff could
return to work “with temporary restrictions which
include lifting no more than five pounds” on the left
and a preclusion on “repetitive or excessive use of
[the] left upper extremity” and
“over-the-shoulder work with the left hand” (Tr.
364). Physical therapy records from later the same month note
that Plaintiff returned to work with lifting restrictions
end of August, 2012, Plaintiff stopped working due to pain
but resumed work in the middle of September, 2012 (Tr. 554).
Physical therapy records from November, 2012 note her report
that she “overuse[d]” her shoulder (Tr. 572). She
exhibited an improved ability to stretch (Tr. 572). In
October, 2012, Jeffrey D. Shapiro, M.D. noted Plaintiff's
complaints of continued pain but observed 5/5 strength in
resistant maneuvers (Tr. 648). He issued an off work note
(Tr. 648). In December, 2012, Dr. Shapiro performed an
arthroscopic decompression procedure (Tr. 600, 608-612). A
post-operative examination showed a normal range of shoulder
motion (Tr. 615). He issued “off work” notes on
December 17, 2012, January 21, 2013, March 4, 2013, and on
April 15, 2013 (Tr. 644-647). January, 2013 physical therapy
records note an increased range of motion (Tr. 807). April,
2013 physical therapy records note that Plaintiff was able to
reach slowly overhead but was unable to lift objects overhead
(Tr. 836). In May, 2013, Dr. Shapiro performed a surgical
procedure to address the condition of adhesive capsilitis
(Tr. 625, 633). Physical therapy notes from the same month
note reports of level “two” or
“three” pain on a one to ten scale (Tr. 945). In
June through September, 2013, Dr. Shapiro limited Plaintiff
to “one arm work only” (Tr. 641-643, 884). In
September, 2013, Plaintiff reported that the shoulder was
“stiff but better” (Tr. 895). In October, 2013,
Dr. Shapiro noted that Plaintiff had made improvement in
physical therapy but found that she should remain off work
until “reevaluation in six weeks” (Tr. 640).
Physical therapy records from the same month through January,
2014 note her report of level “two” or
“three” pain with an occasional
“four” (Tr. 901-920, 950, 952). In December,
2013, Dr. Shapiro found that Plaintiff should be off work
“one additional month” while undergoing physical
therapy (Tr. 639). On January 6, 2014, Dr. Shapiro found that
Plaintiff should remain off work for the next six weeks (Tr.
638). He found that she should return for treatment “as
necessary” (Tr. 638). March, 2015 physical therapy
records note Plaintiff's report of level
“three” through “five” pain (Tr.
1023, 1030). In May, 2015, Dr. Poppe referred Plaintiff for
an orthopedic consultation (Tr. 1114). A May, 2015 MRI of the
shoulder showed no rotator cuff tear but a tear through the
base of the superior glenoid labrum (Tr. 1055). The same
month, J. David Denzin, M.D. noted Plaintiff's report of
a gradual increase in shoulder pain over the previous three
months (Tr. 1056). He opined that athroscopic surgery for
repair of ...