United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, (DOC. 15), OVERRULING
PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS, (DOC. 16 AND 17), GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, (DOC. 12),
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, (DOC.
11), AND DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on the parties' cross-motions
for summary judgment. Plaintiff Yolanda Davenport, on behalf
of her minor son J.E.D., seeks judicial review of the
ALJ's decision finding that J.E.D. is not disabled. (Doc.
11). Defendant Commissioner of Social Security seeks to
affirm the denial of plaintiff's application for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under the Social Security
Act. (Doc. 12). The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge
Anthony P. Patti, who issued a report and recommendation on
August 11, 2017, recommending that plaintiff's motion be
denied and defendant's motion be granted. (Doc. 15).
Plaintiff filed objections on August 25, 2017. (Doc. 16).
Plaintiff filed her objections again on August 31, 2017.
(Doc. 17). Defendant replied on August 31, 2017. (Doc. 18).
Procedural and Factual History
filed an application for SSI benefits on February 11, 2014,
alleging that J.E.D. has been disabled since April 19, 2012.
After this application was denied, plaintiff requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). ALJ David
F. Neumann held a hearing on May 14, 2015 and subsequently
determined that J.E.D. was not disabled within the meaning of
the Social Security Act. At Step One, the ALJ determined that
J.E.D. has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
February 11, 2014. At Step Two, the ALJ identified severe
impairment of speech/articulation disorder. At Step Three,
the ALJ found that J.E.D.'s severe impairment does not
meet, or medically or functionally equal, the severity of one
of the listed impairments.
Appeals Counsel of the Social Security Administration denied
plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision
on April 6, 2016, “at which point the ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security.” Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004) (internal
citations omitted). Plaintiff initiated this civil action for
review of the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) on May 31, 2016. (Doc. 1).
standard of review to be employed by the Court when examining
a report and recommendation is set forth in 28 U.S.C. §
636. This 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). This Court
“may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate.”
district court may affirm, modify, or reverse the
Commissioner's decision, with or without remand.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court “must
affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is supported by
substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal
standards.” Rabbers v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.,
582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009) (internal citations
omitted). “Substantial evidence is defined as 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 (internal
citations omitted). In deciding whether substantial evidence
supports the ALJ's decision, the Court does “not
try the case de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence
or decide questions of credibility.” Bass v.
McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal
claimant “has the ultimate burden to establish an
entitlement to benefits by proving the existence of a
disability.” Moon v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1175,
1181 (6th Cir. 1990). The Court must “take into account
whatever in the record fairly detracts from [the]
weight” of the Commissioner's decision. TNS,
Inc. v. NLRB, 296 F.3d 384, 395 (6th Cir. 2002)
(internal citations omitted). Nevertheless, “if
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision, this
Court defers to that finding even if there is substantial
evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite
conclusion.” Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (internal citations omitted).
Judge Patti's report and recommendation concludes that
the ALJ's opinion is supported by substantial evidence
and that plaintiff has not shown reversible error. In
response, plaintiff filed two objections. (Doc. 16 and 17).
plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge Patti erred by finding
that it was proper for the ALJ to ignore the opinions of
J.E.D.'s teachers. Plaintiff refers to teacher
questionnaires submitted by Chris Wilinski and Ann Kay.
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ's reasoning is
insufficient because he did not discuss the teachers'
opinions in some of his findings under the six functional
did not ignore Wilinski's opinion, but rather, evaluated
it and chose to discount it. Teachers like Wilinski are
educational personnel, which the pertinent SSR categorizes as
non-medical sources. SSR 06-03P, 2006 WL 2329939, at *2
(S.S.A. Aug. 9, 2006). “An opinion from a
‘non-medical source'. . . may, under certain
circumstances, properly be determined to outweigh the opinion
from a medical source.” SSR 06-03P, *3. “For
example, this could occur if the ‘non-medical'
source has seen the individual more often and has greater
knowledge of the individual's functioning over time and
if the ‘non-medical source's' opinion has
better supporting evidence and is more consistent with the
evidence as a whole.” Id. These circumstances
were not present here. Instead, the ALJ acknowledged that
Wilinski was J.E.D.'s first grade teacher, but found that
Wilinski's questionnaire had “little weight”