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Pipho v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 27, 2015

MIKE D. PIPHO, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS [15], ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [14], GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [10], DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [9], AND AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

GERSHWIN A. DRAIN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Mike D. Pipho ("Pipho" or "Plaintiff") brought this action against the Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner" or "Defendant") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) on March 27, 2014. See Dkt. No. 1. In the Complaint, Pipho challenges the Commissioner's final decision denying his application for Supplemental Social Security Income ("SSI") and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under the Social Security Act ("the Act"). Id. This case was referred to Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub on March 28, 2014. See Dkt. No. 3. The case was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Elizabeth B. Stafford on January 12, 2015 pursuant to Administrative Order 15-AO-009. See Dkt. No. 13.

Pipho filed a Motion for Summary judgment on July 30, 2014. See Dkt. No. 9. The Commissioner also filed a motion for Summary Judgment on August 13, 2014. See Dkt. No. 10. On June 16, 2015, Magistrate Judge Stafford submitted a Report and Recommendation [14], in which she determined that the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") decision was supported by substantial evidence. See Dkt. No. 14. Accordingly, Magistrate Judge Stafford recommended that the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [9] be denied, the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [10] be granted, and the Commissioner's decision be affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See id.

On June 30, 2015, Pipho submitted his Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation [15]. The Commissioner responded to Pipho's objections on July 10, 2015. See Dkt. No. 16. After reviewing Pipho's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, the Court will OVERRULE Pipho's Objections [15] and ACCEPT Magistrate Judge Stafford's Report and Recommendation [14].

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 these portions. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c); 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).

"A reviewing court will affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on substantial evidence, even if substantial evidence would also have supported the opposite conclusion." Gayheart v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 710 F.3d 365, 374 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). 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, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (internal quotations omitted); see also McGlothin v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 299 F.Appx. 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).

B. LEGAL ANALYSIS Plaintiff puts forth four objections in his Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and

Recommendation. See Dkt. No. 15. First, Pipho objects to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that the ALJ's credibility findings were supported by substantial evidence. See Dkt. No. 15 at 1-2 (objecting to Dkt. No. 14 at 7-9). Second, Pipho objects to the Magistrate's decision to affirm the ALJ's finding at step two of the five-step inquiry for determining whether an applicant is disabled under the Act. See id. at 2-3 (objecting to Dkt. No. 14 at 9-11). Third, Pipho objects to the Magistrate Judge's conclusion that the ALJ's RFC assessment is supported by substantial evidence. See id. at 3-6 (objecting to Dkt. No. 14 at 11-13). Fourth, Pipho objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding that a remand pursuant to sentence six of §405(g) is not warranted. See id. at 6 (objecting to Dkt. No. 14 at 13-14). The Court is not persuaded by any of these objections and will address each objection in turn.

1. Objection 1: The Magistrate Judge Correctly Assessed the ALJ's Credibility Determinations

For his first objection, Pipho argues that the ALJ incorrectly relied on his history of noncompliance concerning his diabetic medication, and placed too much weight on his quarterly volunteer work. See Dkt. No. 15 at 1-2. As such, he contends that the Magistrate Judge's conclusion affirming the ALJ's credibility findings were not supported by substantial evidence. This Court disagrees.

While it is not immediately clear, it appears that Pipho is objecting to the Magistrate Judge's finding that "other evidence in the record from May 2011 and March 2012 supports the ALJ's finding that Pipho had a history of noncompliance with taking his medication, and that [] is what caused his increased blood sugar levels." Dkt. No. 14 at 9; cf. Dkt. No. 15 at 1 ("To say that Plaintiff was noncompliant with his diabetes medication from May 2011 to March 2012 is misleading). However, Pipho points out no flaw in the Magistrate Judge's reasoning. Instead, Pipho simply reiterates his disagreements with the ALJ's findings. See id. at 1-2. Pipho's disagreement with the ALJ is not sufficient so long as the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence. See Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986) (quoting Baker v. Heckler, 730 F.2d 1147, 1150 (8th Cir. 1984), for the following proposition: "The substantial-evidence standard allows considerable latitude to administrative decision makers. It presupposes that there ...


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