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Calloway v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

August 13, 2019

Latisha Calloway, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen



         Plaintiff Latisha Calloway seeks judicial review of the decision of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying her application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Plaintiff, through counsel, filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [16] on October 9, 2018. Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [20] on November 13, 2018. On July 10, 2019, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation [22] (“R&R”) recommending that the Court grant Defendant's Motion and deny Plaintiff's Motion. On July 24, 2019, Plaintiff filed Objections [23] to the R&R. Defendant filed a Reply [24] on July 31, 2019.

         For the reasons explained below, the Court ADOPTS the R&R [22]; OVERRULES Plaintiff's Objections [23]; DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [16]; and GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [20].

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The Magistrate Judge summarized the record as follows:

I. Procedural History
On July 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging disability as of August 31, 2013. 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. Plaintiff, represented by attorney Andrea Hamm, testified, as did Vocational Expert (“VE”) Scott B. Silver. On June 28, 2017, ALJ Christensen found that Plaintiff was not disabled. On February 28, 2018 the Appeals Council denied review. Plaintiff filed for judicial review of the final decision on April 23, 2018.
II. Background Facts
Plaintiff, born December 26, 1970, was 46 when the ALJ issued his decision. She completed 11th grade and worked as a housekeeper at a Residence Inn. She alleges disability due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”), chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety, depression, nerve damage, hypertension, and bipolar disorder . . . .
D. The ALJ's Decision
Citing the medical transcript, ALJ Christensen found that for the period under consideration, Plaintiff experienced the severe impairments of “status post gunshot wound to the left shoulder, left buttock, and right leg; degenerative joint disease; and affective disorder” but that none of the conditions met or medically equaled an impairment found in Part 404 Appendix 1 Subpart P, Appendix No. 1. The ALJ determined that for the period subsequent to the August 30, 2013 determination, Plaintiff presented evidence of “a new affective disorder.” He found that she experienced mild restriction in understanding, remembering, or applying information and adapting or managing herself and moderate limitation in interacting with others and in concentration, persistence, or pace. The ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) for sedentary work with the following additional limitations:
[She] requires a sit/stand option, provided that the claimant is off-task less than 10 percent of the workday. The claimant is able to perform postural activities only occasionally but must avoid climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant is able to perform work that does not require any use of the upper extremities above shoulder level. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards. She is able to understand, remember, and execute tasks with an [Specific Vocational Preparation] skill level of 1 to 2, defined as occupations that can be learned by demonstration only or that can be learned within 30 days or less.
Citing the VE's testimony, the ALJ found Plaintiff could perform the jobs of order clerk, addresser, and bench assembler. The ALJ discounted Plaintiff's allegations of disability. He noted that in September, 2014, she denied headaches or the need for pain medication. He noted that Plaintiff exhibited a normal range of motion. He cited records noting “chronic pain medication abuse” and Plaintiff's denial of medication side effects. He noted that Plaintiff exhibited good balance and gait. He noted that Plaintiff did not report headaches until January, 2017 which apparently subsided after her medication was suspended for a month. As to the mental health treating records, the ALJ noted that Plaintiff reported good results from psychotropic medication. He acknowledged that in May, 2016, Plaintiff was diagnosed with “major depressive disorder, recurrent” with psychosis but noted that Plaintiff self-report of severe symptomology was contradicted by her report to treating sources from the same month that she was “feeling ...

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