United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING THE PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS AND ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MARIANNE O. BATTANI, District Judge.
Before the Court are the Plaintiff's objections to Magistrate Judge Whalen's January 21, 2015, Report and Recommendation ("R&R"). (Doc. 25.) In the R&R (Doc. 24), the Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 22) and deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 15). For the reasons that follow, the Court OVERRULES the Plaintiff's objections and ADOPTS the R&R.
II. STATEMENT OF FACTS
As the parties have not objected to the R&R's recitation of the facts, the Court adopts that portion of the R&R. (See Doc. 24, pp. 2-10.)
III. STANDARD OF REVIEW
A. Objections to a Magistrate Judge's R&R
A district court must conduct a de novo review of the parts of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which a party objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district "court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate" judge. Id . The requirement of de novo review "is a statutory recognition that Article III of the United States Constitution mandates that the judicial power of the United States be vested in judges with life tenure." United States v. Shami, 754 F.2d 670, 672 (6th Cir. 1985). Accordingly, Congress enacted 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) to "insure that the district judge would be the final arbiter" of a matter referred to a magistrate. Flournoy v. Marshall, 842 F.2d 875, 878 (6th Cir. 1987).
The Sixth Circuit has made clear that "[o]verly general objections do not satisfy the objection requirement." Spencer v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d 721, 725 (6th Cir. 2006). Only specific objections are entitled to de novo review; vague and conclusory objections amount to a complete failure to object as they are not sufficient to pinpoint those portions of the R&R that are legitimately in contention. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir.1986) (per curiam). "The objections must be clear enough to enable the district court to discern those issues that are dispositive and contentious." Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995). "[O]bjections disput[ing] the correctness of the magistrate's recommendation but fail[ing] to specify the findings... believed [to be] in error' are too general." Spencer, 449 F.3d at 725 (quoting Miller, 50 F.3d at 380).
B. Standard of Review Applicable to Social Security Cases
This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final administrative decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Judicial review is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards. Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Id . (internal quotation marks omitted). If the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, "it must be affirmed even if the reviewing court would decide the matter differently and even if substantial evidence also supports the opposite conclusion." Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted). When reviewing the Commissioner's factual findings for substantial evidence, the Court is limited to an examination of the record and must consider that record as a whole. Wyatt v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 974 F.2d 680, 683 (6th Cir. 1992). There is no requirement, however, that either the ALJ or this Court discuss every piece of evidence in the administrative record. Kornecky v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 167 F.App'x 496, 508 (6th Cir. 2006). Further, this Court does "not try the case de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or decide questions of credibility." Bass v. McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2007).
A. Objections to the Evaluation of Plaintiff's Right-Eye Vision
Plaintiff agrees with Magistrate Judge Whalen's assessment that the only aspect of the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ's) decision that is being appealed relates to Plaintiff's alleged vision impairment in his right eye. (See Doc. 25, p. 1-2.) It is undisputed that Plaintiff is fully blind in his left eye, an impairment the ALJ determined to be severe at Step Two and took into consideration in rendering the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). However, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erroneously failed to consider his right eye visual impairment to be "severe" at Step Two and consequently failed to account for this limitation in the RFC. According to Plaintiff, the Magistrate Judge engaged in extensive speculation about the record and conducted his own post-hoc rationalizations for the ALJ's conclusions based on evidence never cited by the ALJ. Specifically, Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's discussion of treatment notes indicating that Plaintiff refused recommendations ...