United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
SECUNDIONO H. VILLARREAL, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
E. Levy District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Secundiono Villarreal (“Plaintiff”) brings this
action under 42 U.S.C. §405(g) challenging a final
decision of Defendant Commissioner (“Defendant”)
denying his 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 set forth
below, I recommend that Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment be GRANTED [Docket #21] and that Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment be DENIED [Docket #14].
applied for DIB on July 1, 2015, alleging disability as of
March 25, 2012 (Tr. 171). After the initial denial of the
claim, Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, held on
April 7, 2017 in Livonia, Michigan before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) David A. Mason, Jr. (Tr. 27).
Plaintiff, represented by attorney Barry Franklin Keller,
testified, as did vocational expert (“VE”)
Annette Holder (Tr. 31-50, 50-57). On August 24, 2017, ALJ
Mason found that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 10-21). On
April 18, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review of the
ALJ's determination (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff filed suit in
this Court on May 6, 2018.
born August 27, 1966, was just short of his 51st
birthday at the time of the administrative determination (Tr.
21, 171). He completed two years of college and corrections
academy training (Tr. 187). He worked as a corrections
officer, court officer, and “screener” for the
federal government (Tr. 188). He alleges disability due to
depression, anxiety, diabetes, high blood pressure, and body
aches (Tr. 186).
April 7, 2017 hearing, Plaintiff offered the following
testimony: Before ceasing work in May, 2012, he worked as a
corrections officer at the Shiawassee County Sheriff's
Office (Tr. 31). He was terminated in May, 2012 for the
inability to perform his work duties due to the health
conditions of diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, and
depression (Tr. 32). After the termination, he applied for
work at “several municipalities” but did not
receive responses (Tr. 32).
combination of anxiety attacks, high blood pressure, and
diabetes caused him to isolate from others (Tr. 33). He stood
5' 10" and weighed 271 pounds (Tr. 33). He was
divorced and had a son, 12 (Tr. 34). He was currently living
in an apartment with his mother and supported himself with
the proceeds of the sale of his house (Tr. 35). He had a
driver's license and drove 200 miles each weekend to pick
up his son and drove altogether around three days a week (Tr.
did not visit family or friends other than his son (Tr. 37).
He had a smart phone and used Facebook (Tr. 37). He smoked
around one pack of cigarettes each week (Tr. 37). He stopped
drinking about 18 months before the hearing but before that
time was drinking two six-packs of beer every day (Tr. 38).
counsel interjected that Plaintiff received a settlement in
2014 from his former employer for violating his First
Amendment rights but had since “squandered” the
settlement (Tr. 39-41). He stated prior to the
settlement, Plaintiff had been traumatized by the removal of
the guns in his house by the State Police and the Shiawassee
County Sheriff's Department although he had not been
charged with a crime (Tr. 42-43). Counsel
acknowledged that Plaintiff had experienced mental health
problems as far back as 2007 (Tr. 43).
stated that he used the settlement proceeds to set up an
education fund for his son, buy a car, pay bills, make back
child support payments, and repay individuals who had lent
him money (Tr. 41).
experienced medication side effects (Tr. 43). On a scale of
one to ten, he experienced level “eight” back and
joint pain with or without the recommended medication of
Motrin (Tr. 43-44). He used a heating pad for lower back pain
(Tr. 46). He had not undergone epidural injections (Tr. 44).
He was able to microwave simple meals, grocery shop, wash
dishes, do laundry chores, take out the garbage, and vacuum
(Tr. 45). He did not perform lawn or garden work (Tr. 45). He
did not leave the house unless shopping, attending an
appointment, or picking up his son (Tr. 46). His sleeping
habits were erratic (Tr. 46). He could walk 30 yards, stand
for five minutes, and sit for 30 (Tr. 47). He could lift a
gallon of milk and climb stairs with the use of handrail (Tr.
48). He could bend far enough to touch his knees (Tr. 48). He
did not have problems using his hands (Tr. 48).
experienced memory and concentrational problems and
difficulty being around others (Tr. 48). He was unable to
follow the plot of a television show (Tr. 48). He was unable
to understand or carry out basic instructions but could
remember simple instructions (Tr. 48).
response to questioning by his attorney, Plaintiff stated
that he experienced the medication side effect of grinding
his teeth and did not believe that his antidepressant/bipolar
medications were working (Tr. 49). He was unable to work due
to lack of concentration, inability to communicate with
others, and self isolation (Tr. 49). He had daily anxiety
attacks characterized by breathlessness and agitation (Tr.
49). He would be unable to perform a production job due to
his inability to focus or work with other individuals (Tr.
50). He had “lost trust” in people (Tr. 50).
Records Predating the Alleged Onset of Disability Date of May
August, 2007, Plaintiff reported the stressors of a marital
separation, legal matters, finances, and work (Tr. 746). He
was assigned a GAF of 40 due to depression and marital
stress (Tr. 739). The following month, Plaintiff
was assigned a GAF of 45 (Tr. 684). February, 2008 records note
an improved mood despite continued marital problems (Tr.
706). June, 2010 counseling records note Plaintiff's
report of depression and panic attacks (Tr. 719). In April,
2011, Plaintiff reported that he was doing better and ...