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Nidiffer v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 7, 2019

TAMMY NIDIFFER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          PAUL D. BORMAN MAGISTRATE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MONA K. MAJZOUB, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Tammy Nidiffer seeks judicial review of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's determination that she is not entitled to social security benefits for her physical and mental impairments under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Docket no. 1.) Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 11) and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15). Plaintiff has also filed a reply brief in support of her Motion for Summary Judgment. (Docket no. 16.) The motions have been referred to the undersigned for a Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (Docket no. 3.) The undersigned has reviewed the pleadings, dispenses with a hearing pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 7.1(f)(2), and issues this Report and Recommendation.

         I. RECOMMENDATION

         For the reasons that follow, it is recommended that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 11) be DENIED and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (docket no. 15) be GRANTED.

         II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff protectively filed applications for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income in November 2015, alleging that she has been disabled since May 8, 2015, due to multiple sclerosis; fibromyalgia; migraine headaches; pain in her lumbar spine, legs, hips, and cervical spine; lumbar and cervical spine impairments; pinched nerves in her cervical spine; radiating pain and numbness in her arms and hands; depression; anxiety; and a thyroid condition. (TR 15, 82-83, 206-19, 238.) The Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff's claims on April 6, 2016, and Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (TR 82-113, 150-51.) On August 9, 2017, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at a hearing before ALJ B. Lloyd Blair; she also amended her alleged onset date to May 21, 2015. (TR 32-53, 233.) The ALJ subsequently issued an unfavorable decision on November 3, 2017, and the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision. (TR 1-6, 15-26.) Plaintiff then commenced this action for judicial review, and the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, which are currently before the court.

         III. HEARING TESTIMONY AND MEDICAL EVIDENCE

         Plaintiff (docket no. 11 at 5-10) and the ALJ (TR 19-25) have set forth detailed, factual summaries of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing testimony. Defendant relies on the facts as summarized in the ALJ's decision. (Docket no. 15 at 4.) Having conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's medical record and the hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material inconsistencies between these recitations of the record. Therefore, in lieu of re-summarizing this information, the undersigned will incorporate the above-cited factual recitations by reference and will also make references and citations to the record as necessary to address the parties' arguments throughout this Report and Recommendation.

         IV. ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DETERMINATION

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the original alleged onset date of May 8, 2015, and that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: paresthesia on the skin upper extremities, fibromyalgia, lumbar spondylosis, migraine headaches, acquired hypothyroidism, depression, and anxiety. (TR 18.) Additionally, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 19-20.) The ALJ then found that Plaintiff had the following residual functional capacity (RFC):

[C]laimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she should do no standing or walking more than 2 hours per day; should have work that can be performed sitting or standing and jobs allowing a change in position every 30 minutes; she should never use ladders, scaffolds, or ropes; can occasionally use ramps, stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, or balance; should avoid concentrated exposure to vibrations; can frequently but not constantly handle and finger; should avoid exposure including dangerous and unprotected machinery or heights; occasionally bend, twist, and turn at the waist or neck; she should do no commercial driving; never use foot controls; have only simple unskilled work with only occasional contact with co-workers, supervisors, and the public; no fast paced work or work where the pace is set by another.

(TR 20-24.) Subsequently, in reliance on a vocational expert's (VE's) testimony, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing a significant number of jobs in the national economy. (TR 24-25.) Therefore, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act at any time from May 8, 2015, through the date of the decision. (TR 16, 25-26.)

         V. ...


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