The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Avern Cohn
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
This is a Social Security case. Plaintiff Kimberly Welker ("Welker") appeals from the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Social Security benefits. Welker claims to have been disabled since June 26, 2004 due to carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic nerve palsy, herniated disc, canal stenosis, sciatica, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Her insured status ended on June 30, 2006.
The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. The motions were referred to a Magistrate Judge (MJ) for a report and recommendation (MJRR). The MJ recommends that Welker's motion for summary judgment be denied and that the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment be granted. Welker filed timely objections to the MJRR.
Ordinarily the Court would schedule this matter for hearing. Upon review of the parties' papers, however, the Court finds that oral argument is not necessary. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(e)(2). For the reasons that follow, the Court will adopt the MJRR. The Commissioner's motion will be granted. Welker's motion will be denied. The case will be dismissed.
The MJRR sets forth the facts, which are not repeated here.
Welker filed a disability claim on June 8, 2005 alleging a June 26, 2004 onset of disability. Welker says that she is disabled due to carpal tunnel syndrome, thoracic nerve palsy, herniated disc, canal stenosis, sciatica, depression, and post-traumatic stress. This is her fourth application for disability benefits. Welker's insured status expired on June 30, 2006. Therefore the relevant time period for the Court's review is July 26, 2004 through June 30, 2006.
A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on March 17, 2008. The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits on May 13, 2008. Review was denied by the Appeals Council on September 19, 2008.
Welker then brought this action for judicial review, arguing that the ALJ (1) improperly discounted the opinions of her treating physicians and (2) improperly evaluated the restrictions identified by her treating psychiatrist. The MJ rejected Welker's arguments. The MJ found that the ALJ gave sufficient weight to the opinions of Welker's treating physicians and appropriately discounted evidence that was obtained after the expiration of her insured status. The MJ also found that the ALJ incorporated the opinions of Welker's treating psychologist and accounted for the mental limitations that were identified. The MJ determined that the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence and recommended that Welker's motion for summary judgment be denied and that the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment be granted.
Judicial review of a denial of a social security benefits application is limited to determining whether "the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the record." Walters v. Commissioner of Social Security., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). A reviewing court may not resolve conflicts in the evidence or decide questions of credibility. Brainard v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989). "Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197 (1938). The substantiality of the evidence must be based upon the record taken as a whole. Futernick v. Richardson, 484 F.2d 647, 649 (6th Cir. 1973). "[T]he decision of an ALJ is not subject to reversal, even if there is substantial evidence in the record that would have supported the opposite conclusion, so long as substantial evidence supports the conclusion reached by the ALJ." Casey v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 987 F.2d 1230, 1235 (6th Cir. 1993). The substantial evidence standard "presupposes that there is a zone of choice within which the ...