United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
VICTORIA A. ROBERTS U.S. District Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Orlando Taylor (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), challenging a final decision of
Defendant Commissioner (“Defendant”) denying his
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under 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 #13] be GRANTED, and that Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Docket #12] be DENIED.
March 21, 2016, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI,
alleging disability as of October 15, 2015 (Tr. 178, 185).
After the initial denial of the claim, he requested an
administrative hearing, held on December 11, 2017 in Fort
Gratiot, Michigan (Tr. 32). Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Roy E. LaRoche, Jr. presided. Plaintiff,
represented by attorney Wesley Lamey, testified (Tr. 39-52)
as did Vocational Expert (“VE”) Diane Regan (Tr.
52-55). On March 16, 2018, ALJ LaRoche found that Plaintiff
was not disabled (Tr. 10-32). On August 28, 2018, the Appeals
Council denied review (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff filed for judicial
review of the final decision on October 12, 2018.
born October 2, 1981, was 36 when the ALJ made the
non-disability determination (Tr. 32, 177). He obtained a GED
and worked previously as an asphalt applier and general
maintenance worker, and at the time of the application was
working as a general laborer (Tr. 197). His application for
benefits alleges disability due to chronic pain from
sciatica, congestive heart failure, extreme fatigue,
shortness of breath, and a cholecystectomy (Tr. 196).
offered the following testimony:
lived with his fianceé and their two children, ages
nine and two (Tr. 39). His fianceé was temporarily
incarcerated at the time of the hearing (Tr. 39). He was
responsible for the care of his children, adding that the
children's grandmother was watching them during the
hearing (Tr. 40). He received food stamps and Medicaid
coverage (Tr. 40). His driver's license had been
suspended for driving under the influence of marijuana and
careless driving (Tr. 41). His past work as a machine
operator required him to lift up to 50 pounds and stay on his
feet all day (Tr. 42). He later worked at an asphalt-related
job “under the table” until undergoing valve
replacement surgery in February, 2016 (Tr. 42). After
surgery, he was physically unable to return to the asphalt
work (Tr. 44). From July, 2017 forward, he had been unable to
followup with his cardiologists due to his own three-month
incarceration for a DUI (Tr. 44). Prior to his incarceration,
he was unable to procure regular post-surgery checkups due to
difficulty finding a primary care physician (Tr. 45).
experienced weekly episodes of tachycardia brought on by
increased activity (Tr. 48). He had not received physical
restrictions by a cardiologist (Tr. 48). He currently took
Metoprolol and Coumadin (Tr. 46). He acknowledged the
possibility that he had current embolisms or aneurysm, but
was waiting another two weeks to see the cardiologist so that
his fianceé, due to be released from prison in two
weeks, could accompany him (Tr. 47). He had been diagnosed
with a methamphetamine disorder but had not used the
substance in the past year (Tr. 49). He had not been told
that the methamphetamine use could have contributed to the
heart problems (Tr. 49). He did not experience psychological
problems (Tr. 49).
activities included “regular household work” (Tr.
49). He took his children for walks when possible, albeit at
a slow pace (Tr. 50, 52). The children's grandma had been
a “big help” by visiting and taking the children
on outings (Tr. 50). He was responsible for the cooking,
laundry, and shopping chores (Tr. 50-51). He was able to care
for his personal needs (Tr. 51). He could lift and carry his
30-pound daughter for “short distances” (Tr. 51).
September, 2015, Plaintiff sought emergency treatment for
chest pain which began at work while he was sweeping floors
(Tr. 236). Emergency records note a medical history of
congenital heart disease and cardiac valve surgery (Tr. 237).
Plaintiff reported tobacco and marijuana use (Tr. 238). Pulse
Ox showed 100 percent saturation (Tr. 238). He exhibited mild
tachycardia and a systolic murmur (Tr. 239). Lab results were
positive for amphetamines (Tr. 239). A chest x-ray was
unremarkable (Tr. 242). Cardiac records note a diagnosis of
aortic valve stenosis (Tr. 243). Plaintiff reported episodes
of shortness of breath (Tr. 244). The same month, an
ultrasound of the abdomen taken in response to
Plaintiff's report of upper right quadrant pain was
positive for cholecystitis (Tr. 278). October, 2015 records
note that Plaintiff made a normal recovery following a
laparoscopic cholecystectomy (Tr. 312, 317, 625, 628).
December, 2015, Plaintiff sought emergency treatment for
shortness of breath and fatigue (Tr. 392, 612). He reported
that he was still able to work in
“construction/physical labor” (Tr. 392). CT of
the chest was positive for heart enlargement and an aneurysm
of the ascending thoracic aorta with moderate-severe
regurgitation of the aortic valve with an ejection fraction
of 50 to 55 percent (Tr. 267-270, 610, 636). He
self-discharged against medical advice (Tr. 612). He was
cautioned not to perform heavy lifting and directed to stop
the use of tobacco and marijuana (Tr. 305-306).
February, 2016, Plaintiff underwent an ascending aortic
repair (Tr. 288). Discharge records note that Plaintiff was
“doing well” until a few months earlier when he
developed progressive symptoms of heart failure (Tr. 288).
Plaintiff admitted to methamphetamine use one day prior to
his admission (Tr. 295). He denied addiction, noting that he
was sober while in prison between 2001 and 2013 (Tr. 295).
Nine days following surgery, he left the hospital against
medical advice but was in stable condition at the time of the
self-discharge (Tr. 289, 403, 410, 442). His post-surgical
ejection fraction was measured at 58 percent, reflecting a
“low normal” range (Tr. 598). “Home
visit” records from the same week show that Plaintiff