United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ACCEPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (DOC. 19), OVERRULING
PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (DOC. 20), GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC. 15),
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (DOC.
14), AND DISMISSING PLAINTIFF'S CLAIMS
CARAM STEEH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is presently before the Court on the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff Penny Jean
Monroe seeks judicial review of the Administrative Law
Judge's (ALJ) finding that she is not disabled. Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security seeks to affirm the denial of
plaintiff's applications for Disability Insurance
Benefits (DIB) under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 401 et seq., and Supplemental Security Income
Benefits (SSI) under Title XVI, 42 U.S.C. § 1381 et
seq. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge
Patricia T. Morris, who issued a report and recommendation on
April 13, 2017, recommending that plaintiff's motion be
denied and defendant's motion be granted. (Doc. 19).
Plaintiff filed objections on April 27, 2017. (Doc. 20).
Defendant replied on May 1, 2017. (Doc. 21).
Procedural and Factual History
filed applications for DIB and SSI benefits on December 9,
2013, alleging that she has been disabled since September 19,
2009. After her applications were denied, plaintiff requested
a hearing before an ALJ. ALJ Thomas L. Waters held a hearing
on February 4, 2015 and determined that plaintiff was not
disabled within the meaning of the Acts.
Social Security Administration Appeals Counsel denied
plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision
on June 14, 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 August 9, 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). The Court must examine the administrative
record as a whole, and may consider any evidence in the
record, regardless of whether it has been cited by the ALJ.
See Walker v. Sec'y of Health & Human
Servc., 884 F.2d 241, 245 (6th Cir. 1989). 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 citations omitted).
Judge Morris' report and recommendation concludes that
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that
plaintiff was not disabled. Plaintiff filed two objections.
the Court shall address defendant's waiver argument.
Defendant asserts that plaintiff's objections simply
restate arguments raised in her summary judgment brief, as
opposed to challenging portions of the report and
recommendation, and therefore, should be deemed waived.
Although plaintiff's objections are similar to her
summary judgment arguments, the Court will consider them.
plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge Morris erred by
finding that the ALJ properly evaluated her impairments.
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to consider her obesity
and its accompanying comorbidities.
considered plaintiff's obesity and related medical issues
when assessing her residual functional capacity (RFC).
Plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence to show that
obesity limited her ability to work. Her medical record
provided scant traces of obesity and no evidence that it
caused work related limitations. She merely made vague
references to difficulties with obesity in her testimony,
which the ALJ determined were not credible. Plaintiff alleged
related conditions including sleep apnea, GERD, and
depression. But plaintiff denied depression symptoms and the
record contained evidence that her sleep apnea was not as
severe as she claimed. ...