United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
PAGE HOOD United States Chief District Judge
matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Anthony P.
Patti's Report and Recommendation. [Doc. No. 13] Timely
objections and a response to the objections were filed in
this matter. [Doc. Nos. 14 and 15]
review of the Commissioner's decision is limited in scope
to determining whether the Commissioner employed the proper
legal criteria in reaching his conclusion. Garner v.
Heckler, 745 F.2d 383 (6th Cir. 1984). The credibility
findings of an administrative law judge (AALJ") must not
be discarded lightly and should be accorded great deference.
Hardaway v. Secretary of Health and Human Services,
823 F.2d 922, 928 (6th Cir. 1987). A district court's
review of an ALJ's decision is not a de novo
review. The district court may not resolve conflicts in the
evidence nor decide questions of credibility.
Garner, 745 F.2d at 397. The decision of the
Commissioner must be upheld if it is supported by substantial
evidence, even if the record might support a contrary
decision or if the district court arrives at a different
conclusion. Smith v. Secretary of HHS, 893 F.2d 106,
108 (6th Cir. 1984); Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535,
545 (6th Cir. 1986).
Court has had an opportunity to review this matter and finds
that the Magistrate Judge reached the correct conclusions for
the proper reasons. Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate
Judge's: (a) finding that the ALJ's Aerroneous"
conclusion that Plaintiff worked 16 hours per week was
harmless error; (b) determination that there was substantial
evidence to support the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff
worked 16 hours per week; and (c) finding that the ALJ did
not err in failing to remand the matter to the Commissioner
based on a consideration of additional evidence provided to
the Appeals Council by Plaintiff.
respect to the first two objections, Plaintiff argues that
the ALJ's conclusion that Plaintiff worked 16 hours per
week, rather than 16 hours per month, was erroneous and that
it was not a harmless error. Plaintiff asserts that, because
the number of hours worked by Plaintiff was the first item
listed by the ALJ to support his finding that Plaintiff was
not disabled, the number of hours worked was central to the
ALJ's determination regarding disability.
Court is not persuaded by Plaintiff's argument. First, as
the Magistrate Judge noted, there is substantial evidence in
the record to support a finding that Plaintiff worked 16
hours per week: (a) Plaintiff acknowledged working as an
adult foster care aide (both during the relevant time period
and long after the hearing date); (b) Dr. Prakash's
reports stated that Plaintiff worked 16 hours per week; and
(c) Plaintiff's earnings records showed that she worked
at least 41 hours per month between February 2012 and
November 2013, not the 16 hours per month claimed by
Plaintiff or the 24 hours per month that would result from
working 6 hours per week, as Plaintiff testified. Although
Plaintiff accurately notes the presence of conflicting
evidence, that conflicting evidence does not obviate the fact
that there was substantial evidence to support the ALJ's
the Court concludes that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that,
even if the ALJ's finding regarding the number of hours
worked by Plaintiff was erroneous and was not considered, the
ALJ would have concluded that Plaintiff was disabled. The
ALJ's decision cited the nature of the work Plaintiff
performed (including driving, dusting, doing dishes and
laundry, picking up medications, going to the store, and
wiping down toilets), Plaintiff's continued smoking
despite instructions to quit, the absence of opinions by
medical professionals that supported a finding of disability,
and the tasks Plaintiff could perform in her personal life.
The Court finds that those other factors constituted
substantial (and sufficient) evidence to support a finding
that Plaintiff was not disabled.
third objection, Plaintiff contends that she is entitled to a
sentence six remand because the Appeals Council failed to
consider evidence of her treatment after June 30, 2014. A
“district court can . . . can remand the case for
further administrative proceedings [pursuant to sentence six]
in light of the evidence, if a claimant shows that the
evidence is new and material, and that there was good cause
for not presenting it in the prior proceeding.”
Cline v. Comm' r of Soc. Sec., 96 F.3d 146, 148
(6th Cir. 1996). Evidence is deemed material “if there
is a reasonable probability that the [Commissioner] would
have reached a different disposition of the disability claim
if presented with the new evidence.” Hollon ex rel.
Hollon v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 447 F.3d 477, 483
(6th Cir. 2006).
case, the evidence at issue consists of approximately 80
pages of medical records Plaintiff provided to the Appeals
Council that was not available to the ALJ. Plaintiff asserts
that the Appeals Council did not adequately consider those
medical records, but she does not specify how these medical
records are material or how the contents of them would
dictate a different disposition of her disability claim. Like
the Magistrate Judge, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not
shown that the new evidence bears on her health prior to her
date last insured (June 30, 2014), and substantial evidence
supports the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff was not
reasons set forth above, the Court finds that the ALJ's
decision, including but not limited to the determinations
Plaintiff challenges in her objections, was supported by
substantial evidence and was not based on any legally
erroneous determination. Further, the Court accepts the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation as this
Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
IT IS ORDERED that the Report and
Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti
[Doc. No. 13, filed December 8, 2016] is
ACCEPTED and ADOPTED as
this Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Objections
[Doc. No. 14, filed December 21, 2016] are
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 10, filed May 12,
2016] is DENIED.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 11, ...