United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
ROBIN J. WEISENFELD, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen
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
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge
Robin J. Weisenfeld filed a complaint seeking judicial review
of the Social Security Commissioner's denial of
disability benefits on May 12, 2016. ECF No. 1.
Weisenfeld's original application for disability benefits
was filed on April 3, 2013. The request was denied, and
Weisenfeld requested an administrative hearing. The
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that Weisenfeld was not
disabled. The Appeals Council denied review, making the
ALJ's denial of benefits the Commissioner's final
decision. Weisenfeld sought judicial review, and the case was
referred to Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen. ECF No. 3.
After the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment,
Judge Whalen issued a report recommending that the
Defendant's motion be granted, Plaintiff's motion
denied, and the Commissioner's decision affirmed. ECF
Nos. 11, 16, 19. Weisenfeld filed two objections to the
report and recommendation. ECF No. 20. For the reasons stated
below, those objections will be overruled and the report and
recommendation will be adopted.
one exception (discussed below), neither party has objected
to Judge Whalen summary of the background and administrative
proceedings of the case. For that reason, the summary is
adopted in full. A brief reiteration will be provided here.
Weisenfeld was 51 when her request for disability benefits
was denied by the Commissioner. She has a college education
and previous work history as a nurse. Weisenfeld alleges
disability due to arthritis and back pain.
hearing, the ALJ found that Weisenfeld experienced several
severe impairments: “calcium pyrophosphate deposition
disease (pseudogout); arthritis of the knee status-post two
surgeries, and obstructive sleep apnea.” Admin. Rec. at
33, ECF No. 9. Despite those impairments, the ALJ concluded
that Weisenfeld possessed the Residual Functional Capacity
for light work, with certain restrictions, and concluded that
Weisenfeld could perform a significant number of jobs despite
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.
the Social Security Act (“The Act”), a claimant
is entitled to disability benefits if he can demonstrate that
he is in fact disabled. Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d
727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007). Disability is defined by the Act as
an “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505, 416.05. A
plaintiff carries the burden of establishing that he meets
this definition. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(5)(A); see
also Dragon v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 470 F. App'x
454, 459 (6th Cir. 2012).
federal regulations outline a five-step sequential process to
determine whether an individual qualifies as disabled:
First, the claimant must demonstrate that he has not engaged
in substantial gainful activity during the period of
disability. Second, the claimant must show that he suffers
from a severe medically determinable physical or mental
impairment. Third, if the claimant shows that his impairment
meets or medically equals one of the impairments listed in 20
C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1, he is deemed disabled.
Fourth, the ALJ determines whether, based on the
claimant's residual functional capacity, the claimant can
perform his past relevant work, in which case the claimant is
not disabled. Fifth, the ALJ determines whether, based on the
claimant's residual functional capacity, as well as his
age, education, and work experience, the claimant can make an
adjustment to other work, in which case the claimant is not
Courter v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 479 F. App'x
713, 719 (6th Cir. 2012) (quoting Wilson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 548 (6th Cir. 2004)). Through
Step Four, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving the
existence and severity of limitations caused by his
impairments and the fact that she is precluded from
performing her past relevant work. At Step Five, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner to identify a significant number
of jobs in the economy that accommodate the claimant's
residual functional capacity (determined at step four) and
vocational profile. See Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S.
137, 146 n. 5 (1987).
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 ...