United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ARTHUR J. TARNOW U.S. District Court Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEVEN WHALEN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Latisha Calloway (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), challenging a final decision of
Defendant Commissioner (“Defendant”) denying her
claim for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Both parties have
filed summary judgment motions which have been referred for a
Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons set forth below, I recommend
that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Docket #20]
be GRANTED, and that Plaintiff's Amended Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket #16] be DENIED.
15, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging
disability as of August 31, 2013 (Tr. 200). After the initial
denial of the present claim, Plaintiff requested an
administrative hearing, held in Oak Park, Michigan before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Timothy J.
Christensen (Tr. 56). Plaintiff, represented by attorney
Andrea Hamm, testified (Tr. 61-77), as did Vocational Expert
(“VE”) Scott B. Silver (Tr. 77-80). On June 28,
2017, ALJ Christensen found that Plaintiff was not disabled
(Tr. 18-30). On February 28, 2018 the Appeals Council denied
review (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff filed for judicial review of the
final decision on April 23, 2018.
born December 26, 1970, was 46 when the ALJ issued his
decision (Tr. 51, 200). She completed 11th grade
and worked as a housekeeper at a Residence Inn (Tr. 224). She
alleges disability due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
(“PTSD”), chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis,
anxiety, depression, nerve damage, hypertension, and bipolar
disorder (Tr. 222).
to Plaintiff's testimony the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's former work activity as stated in her
application for benefits did not rise to the level of
Substantial Gainful Activity (Tr. 61).
then offered the following testimony:
not attend school after 11th grade (Tr. 61). She
received gunshot wounds in 2008 (Tr. 61). She was currently
receiving both mental health treatment and treatment for
physical problems (Tr. 61). She stood 5' 5" and
weighed around 213 pounds (Tr. 62). Her weight fluctuated due
to her eating habits and medication (Tr. 62). She had lived
with her mother since 2008 (Tr. 62). Her 24-year-old daughter
lived with them (Tr. 63).
was able to care for her personal needs (Tr. 63). Her
medication caused her to sleep most of the day (Tr. 63). The
sleepiness was caused by a combination of Seroquel and
Viibryd (prescribed respectively for nightmares about the
shooting and depression) and opiates (Tr. 64). She typically
fell asleep after eating breakfast (Tr. 65). She relied on
her daughter to perform laundry chores but was able to fold
her own clothes (Tr. 65). She experienced “a
phobia” about leaving the house since experiencing a
panic attack resulting from the shooting (Tr. 65).
experienced good results from mental health counseling while
in jail and continued to receive treatment after being
released (Tr. 65). At the time of the hearing, she received
mental health treatment once a month and pain management
treatment once every two months (Tr. 66). While at home, she
did not sit on either the front or back porch due to her fear
of being shot (Tr. 67).
worst physical problem was right knee limitations due to a
bullet wound and arthritis (Tr. 67-68). She experienced
“unbearable pain” when not taking medication (Tr.
68). She could walk but not run, adding that she was able to
walk one block before experiencing severe knee pain (Tr.
68-69). Her pain was eased by propping her right leg up to
hip level (Tr. 69). She was unable to sit for more than 30
minutes due to back pain (Tr. 69-70). After sitting for half
an hour, she was required to recline for two hours (Tr. 70).
Her back pain, also due to a gunshot wound, was not as bad as
the knee pain but created left upper extremity limitations
(Tr. 71). She was unable to lift more than five pounds with
the left arm (Tr. 71). She was unable to stand for more than
10 minutes at a time due to back and knee pain (Tr. 71).
socialized with her daughter and sister (Tr. 72). Due to the
medication side effect of sleepiness, Plaintiff was unable to
focus for the length of a 30-minute television program (Tr.
72). She was able to watch a movie but was prone to falling
asleep before the end, adding that she typically recorded
movies for later viewing (Tr. 73). She did not experience
problems falling asleep at night but before starting
Seroquel, experienced nightmares (Tr. 73-74). She also
experienced daily headaches lasting for up to a few hours
(Tr. 75). In response to questioning by the ALJ, Plaintiff
testified that her doctors were aware of her daily headaches
and that she spent approximately 17 daytime hours sleeping
every day (Tr. 76-77).
2015 records by University Pain Clinic note Plaintiff's
report of low back and buttock pain since sustaining gunshot
wounds in 2008 (Tr. 303). On a scale of one to ten, Plaintiff
reported level “six” pain at the time of the
examination and a maximum of level “ten” pain
(Tr. 303). She exhibited normal judgment, mood, and affect
(Tr. 304). Plaintiff reported that she was not interested in
more aggressive treatment (Tr. 306). She denied medication
side effects (Tr. 307). She denied fatigue or sleeping
problems but reported anxiety and depression (Tr. 308). In
April and June, 2015 Plaintiff again denied medication side
effects (Tr. 310, 313). She appeared fully oriented (Tr. 311,
2015 records by psychiatrist John Head, D.O. note that
Plaintiff spent two years in prison for assault during which
time she was diagnosed with PTSD, depression, and anxiety
(Tr. 453). He assigned her a GAF of 46 due to depression,
PTSD, and educational, occupational, social, and legal
problems (Tr. 453). Counseling sessions from the
same month note that Plaintiff was fully oriented with a
cooperative manner and clear speech (Tr. 433). July, 2015
physical treating records note a normal range of motion and
normal neurological and psychological examinations (Tr. 463).
Plaintiff reported that her primary concern was hypertension
(Tr. 462). Dr. Head's August and September, 2015 records
note her report of “no complaints” or medication
side effects (Tr. 403, 411). Dr. Head's October, 2015
records note complaints of “racing thoughts” but
no side effects (Tr. 397). Physical treating records from the
following month note that Plaintiff was scheduled for a
partial hysterectomy (Tr. 469). Physical and psychological
examinations were unremarkable (Tr. 470). In November and
December, 2015, Plaintiff again denied medication side
effects or psychological symptoms (Tr. 381, 389). Physical
treating records from the same month note normal strength and
movement and unremarkable neurological and psychiatric
examinations (Tr. 473).
2016 pain management records note that a straight leg raise
test was negative (Tr. 536). Plaintiff demonstrated a normal
gait and was “fully awake, alert, appropriate, and
talkative” (Tr. 536). She report level
“five” pain (Tr. 535). Dr. Head's January and
February, 2016 records note no medication side effects or
symptoms (Tr. 363, 373). March, 2016 pain management records
note that lower back and right knee pain was improved with
medication (Tr. 526). Plaintiff denied medication side
effects (Tr. 526). Dr. Head's April, 2016 note her report
of “hearing voices” (Tr. 350). His records from
later the same month note that Plaintiff had no complaints,
side effects, or symptoms (Tr. 341). In May, 2016, Dr. Head
assigned Plaintiff a GAF of 50 due to depression, PTSD, and
educational, occupational, social, and legal stressors (Tr.
331). He noted that Plaintiff had a 25-year history of
marijuana abuse (Tr. 331). A medication review from the same
month noted “no complaints, ” “no symptoms,
” and a denial of medication side effects (Tr. 332).
and July, 2016 treating records note normal movement and
normal neurological and psychiatric examinations (Tr. 475,
477). October, 2016 physical treating records note a normal
range of motion and a normal neurological examination (Tr.
479, 483). January, 2017 records note a full range of motion
in all extremities and a normal neurological examination (Tr.
486). Plaintiff complained of headaches due to the use of
Norvasc (Tr. 485). Pain management records from the same
month note that pain interfered with her daily activities but
that she did not experience medication side effects (Tr.
518). She declined a recommended CAT scan, stating that she
was not interested in surgery (Tr. 518). She requested a
right knee injection, noting that the knee pain was worse in
cold weather (Tr. 518). February, 2017 physical treating
records also note Plaintiff's report of headaches due to
the use of Norvasc (Tr. 492). A knee injection was performed
without complications in March, 2017 (Tr. 504).
March, 2017, Dr. Head composed a letter on behalf of the
Plaintiff's application for SSI, opining that she was
“unable to work due to her chronic mental health
symptoms” (Tr. 566).
Consultative and Non-Examining Sources
October, 2015, Julia A. Czarnecki, M.A., LLP, under the
direction of Nick Boneff, Ph.D, performed a consultative
psychological examination (Tr. 324-328) noting
Plaintiff's report that she underwent three years of
physical therapy following the 2008 shooting but continued to
experienced lower back and buttocks pain (Tr. 324). Plaintiff
reported that she was taken to an emergency room in 2012
after experiencing a panic attack (Tr. 324). She denied
episodes of self harm or inpatient psychiatric treatment (Tr.
324). She reported that anxiety was ...