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Dean v. Comissioner of Social Security

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

September 16, 2019

RHEANNA DEAN, Plaintiff,

          David R. Grand Judge



         Plaintiff Rheanna Dean applied for social security disability benefits based on a number of medical conditions. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), acting on behalf of the Commissioner of Social Security, decided that Dean was not disabled for purposes of receiving benefits. Dean then filed this suit challenging the ALJ's determination that she is not disabled under the Social Security Act.

         The Court referred all pretrial proceedings to Magistrate Judge David R. Grand, who issued a Report and Recommendation to grant Dean's motion for summary judgment and to deny the Commissioner's. (ECF No. 21.) The Commissioner objects. The Court will adopt the recommendation of the magistrate judge and remand the case for further adjudication for the reasons explained below.


         Dean is a young woman who suffers from various medical conditions, including bipolar disorder, autism spectrum disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, panic disorder without agoraphobia, anxiety disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and an organic mental disorder. (ECF No. 9-2, PageID.40.) Dean alleges that her disability began on September 1, 2001, when she was five years old. (ECF No. 9-6, PageID.209.) She graduated from high school and has briefly worked at two different jobs. (ECF No. 9-2, PageID.61-62.) Dean quit both jobs, including one at Arby's, “because the tasks were too complicated, and the pace was too quick.” (ECF No. 22, PageID.792 (citing ECF No. 9-2, PageID.62.)) Dean has also struggled with “everyday tasks like following simple directions” (ECF No. 9-2, PageID.62-63) and “getting along with people” (ECF No. 9-2, PageID.72).

         In support of her application for benefits, Dean submitted records from several medical providers, six of whom are at issue here. The first report is from Dr. Andrew Maltz, a licensed psychologist who evaluated Dean for special education services during her senior year of high school. (See ECF No. 9-9, PageID.386.) Between 2015 and 2017 Dean was treated by three psychiatrists, Dr. Bardia Gholami, Dr. Manuel Dumlao, and Dr. Ali Ibrahim. (See ECF, No. 9-10; ECF No. 9-11; ECF No. 9-12.) Between 2016 and 2017 Dean also attended therapy with social workers Caryn Schutte and Jennifer Gavrila. (See ECF No. 9-11; ECF No. 9-12.) Both Schutte and Gavrila completed medical source statements evaluating Dean's impairments. (ECF No. 9-11, PageID.569; ECF No. 9-12, PageID.676.)

         Dean submitted her application for disability benefits on October 21, 2015. (ECF No. 9-6, PageID.209.) After her initial claim was denied, Dean appeared at a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on July 11, 2017. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision the following month. On March 10, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review and Dean filed this action on May 14, 2018.


         This Court performs a de novo review of those portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which the parties have objected. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). The Court need not and does not perform a de novo review of the report's unobjected-to findings. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985); Garrison v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, No. 10-13990, 2012 WL 1278044, at *8 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 16, 2012).

         “This Court must affirm the Commissioner's conclusions absent a determination that the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.” Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390 (6th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). “The substantial evidence standard is met if a reasonable mind might accept the relevant evidence as adequate to support a conclusion.” Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Supporting a conclusion means there is more than a “scintilla” of evidence but it need not amount to a preponderance. See Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007).


         For a number of reasons, the Magistrate Judge determined that the ALJ's “conclusion that Dean was not disabled under the Act is not supported by substantial evidence.” (ECF No. 22, PageID.790.) The ...

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