United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER ACCEPTING AND ADOPTING THE
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
G. Edmunds United States District Judge.
Michelle Ford seeks review of Defendant Commissioner of
Social Security's determination that she is not entitled
to social security benefits. The Court referred the matter to
Magistrate Judge David Grand, and on January 31, 2017, the
Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R)
that the Court affirm the Commissioner's decision. On
February 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed two objections to the
R&R (Dkt. 16), which the Court considers here. For the
reasons stated below, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's
objections and ACCEPTS AND ADOPTS the R&R. As a result,
Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED ,
Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED ,
the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED, and the case is
Standard of Review
party objects to portions of a magistrate judge's report
and recommendation on a dispositive motion, the Court reviews
such portions de novo. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). However,
only specific objections that pinpoint a source of error are
entitled to de novo review. Mira v.
Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). General
objections, or those that merely challenge the magistrate
judge's ultimate determinations, have "the same
effects as would a failure to object." Howard v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509
(6th Cir. 1991). That is, such objections are invalid, and
the Court may treat them as if they were waived. See
Harris v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2017 WL 343729, at *1
(E.D. Mich. Jan. 24, 2017).
raises two objections to the R&R. First, Plaintiff
contests the R&R's finding that the ALJ was not
required to recontact Dr. Diab, her treating physician. (Dkt.
16, at 2.) The R&R describes Dr. Diab's treatment
notes as "largely illegible" (Dkt. 15, at 12), and
Plaintiff contends that the case must be remanded to the ALJ
to clarify those notes. Plaintiff argues that a full
understanding of the notes is necessary because they might be
the only evidence in which a medical provider corroborates
her claim of depression. (Dkt. 16, at 3-4.) The Court
disagrees with Plaintiff.
applicable regulation provides that the ALJ
"may recontact your treating physician,
psychologist, or other medical source." 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520b(c)(1) (emphasis added). "The decision to
recontact is driven by the inadequacy of the evidence in the
record." Perry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2016
WL 1084682, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 21, 2016) (internal
citations omitted). "Thus, if the record contains
sufficient evidence, recontacting sources is
unnecessary." Id.; see also Dooley v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 656 F.App'x 113, 123 (6th
Cir. 2016) (holding that an ALJ's decision not to contact
a medical provider for clarification was not an abuse of
discretion where the ALJ's "thorough opinion
demonstrates that he carefully considered the entire record
... before determining that there was sufficient evidence in
the record to conclude that Dooley was not disabled").
on this standard, the R&R's conclusion that the ALJ
had no duty to recontact Dr. Diab is correct. The R&R
reviews the evidence that the ALJ considered when assessing
Plaintiff's mental RFC, including "that no other
treating or examining source of record observed mental
limitations and that the record contains no evidence of other
mental health treatment, such as psychotherapy." (Dkt.
15, at 14 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).)
Then the R&R concludes that this evidence was sufficient
to determine that Plaintiff did not suffer from specific
limitations in mental functioning, making it unnecessary to
clarify Dr. Diab's notes. The Court agrees with that
analysis. Moreover, the Court agrees with the R&R's
determination that "even if the Court were to find that
the ALJ erred in failing to re-contact Dr. Diab for
clarification of his treatment notes, any such error would be
harmless because the record as a whole fails to demonstrate
that Ford's alleged depression is severe, let alone that
it imposes limitations inconsistent with the demands of
unskilled work." (Id.) Accordingly, the Court
finds that Plaintiff's first objection lacks merit, and
it is overruled.
Plaintiff objects to the R&R's finding that the
ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence.
(Dkt. 16, at 4.) Plaintiff argues that "the Magistrate
Judge misconstrued medical evidence and testimony that
ultimately, resulted in an inadequate RFC[.]" (Dkt. 16,
at 5.) And Plaintiff directs the Court to roughly a dozen
portions of the record that Plaintiff believes compel a
different result, essentially rearguing her case. Given that
this objection merely challenges the Magistrate Judge's
ultimate determination, it amounts to a general objection, so
the Court may and does treat it as waived. Howard,
932 F.2d at 509; see also Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d
373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995) (holding that general objections to
a magistrate judge's report and recommendation that are
"summary in nature, with no specificity at all, "
are insufficient). Therefore, Plaintiff's second
objection is also overruled.
that Plaintiff's objections to the R&R have been
overruled, the Court ACCEPTS AND ADOPTS the Magistrate
Judge's R&R. Accordingly, Defendant's motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED, Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment is DENIED, the ...