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Janssen v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

April 16, 2015

RENAE JANSSEN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS [#12], ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [#11], GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#10], DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [#9], AND AFFIRMING THE COMMISIONER'S DECISION

GERSHWIN A. DRAIN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Renae Janssen ("Janssen" or "Plaintiff") brought this action against the Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner" or "Defendant") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) on June 23, 2014. See Dkt. No. 1. In the Complaint, Janssen challenged the Commissioner's final decision denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under the Social Security Act ("the Act"). Id. This Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge David R. Grand on June 24, 2014. See Dkt. No. 2.

Janssen filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on October 14, 2014. See Dkt. No. 9. On November 14, 2014, the Commissioner also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. See Dkt. No. 10. On March 23, 2015, Magistrate Judge Grand found that substantial evidence supported the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") conclusion, and that Janssen was not disabled under the Act. See Dkt. No. 11. Magistrate Judge Grand recommended that the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment [#10] be granted, Janssen's Motion for Summary Judgment [#9] be denied, and that, pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §405(g), the ALJ's decision be affirmed.

On March 30, 2015, Janssen submitted a "Response to Report and Recommendation, " which appeared to advance three objections to the Magistrate Judge Grand's Report and Recommendation. See Dkt. No. 12. The Commissioner failed to file a Response to Janssen's "Response to Report and Recommendation." Nonetheless, after reviewing Janssen's "Response to Report and Recommendation, " the Court will OVERRULE the objections in Janssen's Response [#12], and ACCEPT Magistrate Judge Grand's Report and Recommendation [#11].

II. DISCUSSION

A. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Where a party has objected to portions of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, the Court conducts a de novo review of those portions. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Lyons v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 351 F.Supp.2d 659, 661 (E.D. Mich. 2004). In reviewing the findings of the ALJ, the Court is limited to determining whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and made pursuant to proper legal standards. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) ("The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive..."); Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007).

Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Kyle v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 609 F.3d 847, 854 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Lindsley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir. 2009)); see also McGlothin v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 299 F.App'x 516, 522 (6th Cir. 2008) (recognizing that 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.") (internal quotations omitted).

"If the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, we must defer to that decision, even if there is substantial evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite conclusion.'" Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005)). "It is of course for the ALJ, and not the reviewing court, to evaluate the credibility of witnesses, including that of the claimant." Rogers, 486 F.3d at 247.

Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. See Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir.1986). "The parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specially consider." Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "A non-specific objection, or one that merely reiterates arguments previously presented, does not adequately identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge and results in a duplication of effort on the part of the district court[.]" Carter v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 13-12745, 2014 WL 6750310, at *6-7 (E.D. Mich. Dec. 1, 2014) (citing Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991), for the proposition that "[a] general objection to the entirety of the magistrate's report has the same effects as would a failure to object. The district court's attention is not focused on any specific issues for review, thereby making the initial reference to the magistrate useless.").

B. LEGAL ANALYSIS

Janssen appears to advance three arguments in her "Response to Report and Recommendation." However, only one of Janssen's arguments can reasonably be construed as an objection to Magistrate Judge Grand's Report and Recommendation. The Court will not conduct a de novo review of Janssen's first and last arguments because the arguments fail to address the findings of the Magistrate Judge and merely reiterate arguments previously presented by Janssen. See Dkt. No. 12 at ¶¶ 2, 4. However, because ...


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