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Williams v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 11, 2017

TYESHA WILLIAMS o/b/o R.M.A.C., a minor, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

         OPINION AND ORDER ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DOC. 13), OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (DOC. 15), DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 11), GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 12), AND SUSTAINING DEFENDANT'S LIMITED OBJECTION (DOC. 14)

          GEORGE CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment as to Plaintiff Tyesha Williams's claim, on behalf of her son, R.M.A.C., for judicial review of a final decision of Defendant Commissioner that Plaintiff was not disabled under 42 § U.S.C. 1382c(a)(3)(C). The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris who issued a report and recommendation on April 21, 2017, recommending that Plaintiff's motion be denied and that the Commissioner's motion be granted. Plaintiff filed timely objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, which this court has duly considered. Defendant filed a limited objection to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation, which this court has also considered. For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's objections are overruled, Defendant's limited objection is sustained, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied, and the court shall accept the magistrate judge's report and recommendation.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The facts and procedural history of this case are set forth in the magistrate judge's report and recommendation. Upon review of the record, the court accepts the recitation of the facts set forth there as the factual findings of this court.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Judicial review of benefits decisions made by the Commissioner of Social Security after a hearing is authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). When reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation upon objection from any party, the court “shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate.” Id.

         A district court may affirm, modify, or reverse the Commissioner's decision, with or without remand. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Findings of fact by the Commissioner are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. Id. The court must affirm the decision unless it determines that the Commissioner “has failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence.” Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390 (6th Cir. 2004). The court may not evaluate the credibility of witnesses or try the case de novo. Ulman v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 693 F.3d 709, 713 (6th Cir. 2012).

         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.” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted) (explaining that if the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, “it must be affirmed even if the reviewing court would decide the matter differently and even if substantial evidence also supports the opposite conclusion”); Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir.1986) (en banc) (noting that the substantial evidence standard “presupposes... a zone of choice within which the decisionmakers can go either way, without interference by the courts”) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). A court may not reverse the Commissioner's decision merely because it disagrees or because substantial evidence can also be found in the record to support the opposite conclusion. McClanahan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 833 (6th Cir. 2006).

         IV. ANALYSIS

         A. Plaintiff's Objection No. 1

         Plaintiff alleges that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and Magistrate Judge Morris violated agency regulations, thus establishing a lack of substantial evidence. (Doc. 15 at 1). Plaintiff quotes a court decision; however, Plaintiff does not provide evidence to support that the opinions of the ALJ or Magistrate Judge Morris violated agency regulations. Id. at 1-2. Plaintiff further contends that “[s]ubstantial evidence on this record supports only one result[, ]” that R.M.A.C.'s impairments functionally equal a listing. Id. at 2. Yet, Plaintiff does not attempt to prove that “substantial evidence on this record supports only one result.” Id.

         As Magistrate Judge Morris noted, as long as the Commissioner's decision applied the correct legal standard and is supported by substantial evidence in the record, it must be upheld. (Doc. 13 at 3). A decision by the Commissioner is not reversible simply because there exists in the record substantial evidence to support a different conclusion. See McClanahan, 474 F.3d at 833. Plaintiff appears to argue that the ALJ and Magistrate Judge Morris did not give proper consideration to the questionnaires completed by the teachers and Plaintiff's mother. (Doc. 15 at 2). The ALJ and Magistrate Judge Morris considered all evidence, but found the specific medical findings of Drs. ...


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