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Sorensen v. Commissioner of Social Security

March 29, 2010

CYNTHIA ANN SORENSEN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



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 DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

I. INTRODUCTION

This is a Social Security case. Cynthia Ann Sorensen (Sorensen) appeals from the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) finding that she was no longer eligible for benefits. After a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) affirmed the Commissioner's decision. Sorensen claims that she remains disabled due to mental impairments.

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 Sorensen's motion for summary judgment be denied and that the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment be granted. Sorensen 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 adopts the MJRR. The Commissioner's motion will be granted. Sorensen's motion will be denied. The case will be dismissed.

II. BACKGROUND

The MJRR sets forth the facts which are not repeated here.

Sorensen filed her original application for Social Security Disability Income Benefits on October 1, 2003. Sorensen alleged that she had become disabled and unable to work due to (1) severe left ankle pain resulting from a car accident and (2) depression. The Commissioner determined that Sorensen was disabled as of January 5, 2003. Benefits were granted in February 2004.

Pursuant to continuing disability review, the Commissioner reviewed Sorensen's case to determine her continuing eligibility for disability benefits. In February 2006, the Commissioner determined that she was no longer disabled due to improvements in her medical condition. Her benefits were terminated on April 1, 2006.

A hearing was held before the ALJ on January 6, 2009. The ALJ issued a decision on January 16, 2009. The ALJ found that Sorensen had regained her functional capacity to perform simple, routine, sedentary work that did not involve repetitive climbing, crouching, crawling, or contact with the public and was no longer disabled. Review was denied by the Appeals Council on February 20, 2009.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Judicial review of a Social Security disability 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. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1977). A reviewing court may not resolve conflicts in the evidence or decide questions of credibility. Brainard v. Sec'y of HHS, 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). It is more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance. Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 299 (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). If the commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, it must be affirmed even if there is substantial evidence to support the opposite conclusion. Casey v. Secretary, 987 F.2d 1230 (6th Cir. 1993); Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986) (en banc). The portions of the MJRR that the claimant finds objectionable are reviewed de novo.

28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1)(C); Smith v. Detroit Fed'n of Teachers, Local 231, 829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987).Appellate review is precluded with respect to any issue not contained in the objections to the ...


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