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Mims v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

March 21, 2017

RONALD M. MIMS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Elizabeth A. Stafford Magistrate Judge.

         ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER

          THOMAS L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.

         On January 6, 2016, Plaintiff Ronald Mims filed a complaint seeking judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's denial of disability benefits. ECF No. 1. During the administrative proceedings, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) concluded that Mims was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's denial of benefits the Commissioner's final decision. This case was referred to Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford. ECF No. 2. After the parties filed cross motions for summary judgment, Judge Stafford issued a report and recommendation. ECF No. 17. She recommends that the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment be granted, Mim's motion for summary judgment be denied, and the Commissioner's denial of benefits affirmed. Mims has timely objected to Judge Stafford's report and recommendation. ECF No. 20.

         Pursuant to a de novo review of the record, Mim's objections will be overruled and the report and recommendation will be adopted. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment will be denied, Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted, the determination of the Commissioner of Social Security is AFFIRMED and that Plaintiff's claims will be dismissed with prejudice.

         I.

         Neither party has objected to Judge Stafford's summary of the relevant background of the case. For that reason, the summary is adopted in full. For clarity, a brief reiteration will be provided here. Mims has worked in the past as a heavy equipment mechanic, but alleges that, as of January 18, 2010, he became disabled due to a combination of back pain, neck pain, arm pain, nerve damage, muscle atrophy, anxiety, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and severe depression. Mims submitted his application for disability benefits on September 6, 2013, at the age of 42.

         II.

         When reviewing a case under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court must affirm the Commissioner's conclusions “absent a determination that the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.” Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). Substantial evidence is “such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id. (citation omitted).

         A.

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to and seek review of a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Objections must be stated with specificity. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If objections are made, “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo review requires at least a review of the evidence before the Magistrate Judge; the Court may not act solely on the basis of a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation. See Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th Cir. 1981). After reviewing the evidence, the Court is free to accept, reject, or modify the findings or recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. See Lardie v. Birkett, 221 F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich. 2002).

         Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. 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 general objection, or one that merely restates the arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D.Mich.2004). An “objection” that does nothing more than disagree with a magistrate judge's determination, “without explaining the source of the error, ” is not considered a valid objection. Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections, “[t]he functions of the district court are effectively duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.” Id.

         B.

         Mims raises three objections to Judge Stafford's report and recommendation. Specifically, he argues that Judge Stafford erroneously concluded that the ALJ's residual functional capacity (RFC) decision was supported by substantial evidence, erroneously found that the ALJ did not abuse her discretion by holding that the record was sufficient to assess Mims's RFC, and improperly concluded that the ...


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