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Spuhler v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 27, 2017

DAWN MARIE SPUHLER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          DECISION AFFIRMING DENIAL OF BENEFITS

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This is a Social Security case. Plaintiff Dawn Spuhler (Spuhler) appeals a decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) denying her application for disability insurance benefits. Spuhler asserts a physical impairment of plantar fasciitis (foot inflammation) and mental impairments of depression and anxiety.

         Spuhler is suing under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking reversal of the Commissioner's decision. Spuhler filed a motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 10). The Commissioner filed a cross motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 12). The motions were referred to a magistrate judge who reported and recommended, (Doc. 15), that the Court deny Spuhler's motion, grant the Commissioner's motion, and affirm the denial of benefits. Spuhler objected, (Doc. 16), and the Commissioner responded, (Doc. 18).

         The Court has considered the report and recommendation (R&R) and Spuhler's objections, and conducted a de novo review of the record pertaining to the objections. The Court agrees with the magistrate judge's conclusions and reasoning.

         II. DISPOSITION

         Spuhler's objections to the R&R, (Doc. 16), are OVERRULED, the R&R, (Doc. 15), is ADOPTED and INCORPORATED as the Court's findings and conclusions, Spuhler's motion for summary judgment, (Doc. 10), is DENIED, the Commissioner's cross motion, (Doc. 12), is GRANTED, and the denial of benefits is AFFIRMED.

         III. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Spuhler did not object to the R&R's recitation of the facts and procedural history. (Docs. 15, 16). The Court will not restate them.

         IV. GROUNDS FOR REVIEW

         Spuhler seeks review of the agency's determination of her residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work with restrictions on various grounds.

         First, the functional assessments of her treating and examining physicians were deficient because the assessments did not exhaust every work-related function. Second, the administrative law judge (ALJ) did not properly analyze RFC because the ALJ's written decision did not itemize limitations “function by function” and apply them to every work-related activity. Third, the ALJ invoked the wrong standard for determining RFC in citing to the criteria for rating the severity of mental impairments under 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520a, 416.920a. Fourth, the ALJ failed to recontact Dr. Daniel Zahari, her treating podiatrist, under 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(e)(1), 416.912(e)(1) (2012) regarding a discrepancy in two functional reports he issued. Last, the ALJ gave no “good reasons” for according marginal weight to Dr. Zahari's opinion as to her functional limitations.

         V. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. R&R ...


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