United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Patricia T. Morris United States Magistrate Judge.
AND ORDER: (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF NO.
25); (2) ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
MAGISTRATE JUDGE (ECF NO. 24); (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 17); (4) GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 22); AND
(5) AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
D. Borman United States District Judge.
23, 2017, Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris issued a Report
and Recommendation on the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment. (ECF No. 24, Report and Recommendation.) In
the Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge
recommended that this Court deny Plaintiff Charles Kirwin
Stief's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 17,
Pl.'s Mot.), grant Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 22,
Def.'s Mot.), and affirm the decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security to deny Plaintiffs claim for a period of
disability and Disability Insurance Benefits under the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. (ECF Nos.
13-2-13-9, Transcript of Social Security Proceedings
(hereinafter “Tr. at ___”) at
before the Court are Plaintiffs Objections to the Report and
Recommendation. (ECF No. 25, Pl.'s Objs.) Defendant filed
a timely Response. (ECF No. 26, Def.'s Resp.) Having
conducted a de novo review of the parts of the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which
objections have been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1), the Court will overrule Plaintiffs Objections and
adopt the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.
Magistrate Judge comprehensively set forth the procedural and
factual background of this matter in her Report and
Recommendation. The Court adopts that account here. (Report
and Recommendation at 3-13, Pg ID 982-992.)
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1), the Court conducts a de novo review of
the portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation to which a party has filed “specific
written objections” in a timely manner. Lyons v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec, 351 F.Supp.2d 659, 661 (E.D. Mich.
2004). A district court “may accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge.” Id. 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 omitted). “A general objection, or one that
merely restates the arguments previously presented is not
sufficient to alert the court to alleged errors on the part
of the magistrate judge.” Aldrich v. Bock, 327
F.Supp.2d 743, 747 (E.D. Mich. 2004). Likewise, an objection
that does nothing more than disagree with a magistrate
judge's determination “without explaining the
source of the error” is not a valid objection.
Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).
reviewing the findings of the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), the Court is limited to
determining whether those findings are supported by
substantial evidence and made pursuant to proper legal
standards. See Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing 42 U.S.C. §
405(h)); see also Cutlip v. Sec't of Health and Human
Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). Substantial
evidence is “‘such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Kyle v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 609 F.3d 847, 854 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Lindsley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.3d 601,
604 (6th Cir. 2009)); see also McGlothin v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 299 F. App'x 516, 522 (6th Cir. 2008)
(recognizing that substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance”)
(internal quotation marks omitted). “If the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, [the court] must defer to that decision,
‘even if there is substantial evidence in the record
that would have supported an opposite conclusion.'”
Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir.
2007) (quoting Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005)).
whether proper legal criteria were followed, a decision of
the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) that is supported by
substantial evidence will not be upheld “where the SSA
fails to follow its own regulations and where that error
prejudices a claimant on the merits or deprives the claimant
of a substantial right.” Bowen v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing
Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541,
546-47 (6th Cir. 2004)).
Court does not “try the case de novo, nor resolve
conflicts in the evidence, nor decide questions of
credibility.” Cutlip, 25 F.3d at 286. It is
“for the ALJ, and not the reviewing court, to evaluate
the credibility of witnesses, including that of the
claimant.” Rogers, 486 F.3d at 247; see
also Cruse v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 502 F.3d 532, 542
(6th Cir. 2007) (noting that the “ALJ's credibility
determinations about the claimant are to be given great
weight, ‘particularly since the ALJ is charged with
observing the claimant's demeanor and
credibility'”) (quoting Walters v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec, 127 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir. 1997)).
raises nine Objections to the Report and Recommendation.
Seven of the nine Objections are substantially devoid of any
argument that was not already presented in Plaintiffs Motion
for Summary Judgment; Plaintiffs second and ninth objections
do attempt to identify a specific legal error on the part of
the Magistrate Judge, but each lacks merits for the reasons
discussed below. Accordingly, the Court will overrule all
nine of Plaintiff s Objections and adopt the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation.
Objection 1: Weight Given to Medical Opinions
Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding that
ALJ Patricia S. McKay correctly evaluated certain medical
opinions in the record, taking particular issue with her
determination that “the ALJ properly applied the
relevant factors in evaluating the opinions of Dr. Madej, Dr.
Hoffman, Dr. Vollmer, and Dr. Terlep under 20 CFR
404.1527[(c)].” (Pl.'s Objs. at 2, Pg ID 1009.)
summarized by the Magistrate Judge, the factors that 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c) provides for assigning probative
value to medical opinions include “whether the source
examined the claimant, ‘the length of the treatment
relationship and the frequency of examination, the nature and
extent of the treatment relationship, supportability of the
opinion, consistency of the opinion with the record as a
whole, and specialization of the treating source.'”
(Report and Recommendation at 14-15, Pg ID 993-94 (quoting
Wilson, 378 F.3d at 544).) Opinions of treating
medical professionals that concern “the nature and
severity of [the claimant's] impairment(s)[, ]” if
they are “well-supported by medically acceptable
clinical and ...