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Mokbel-Aljahmi v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

September 26, 2017




         Plaintiff Mohamed Ahmed Mokebel-Aljahmi appeals from Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's denial of his application for disability income benefits. Magistrate Judge Mona k. Majzoub issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Dkt. # 15) advising the court to deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. # 12) and grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. # 13). Plaintiff timely filed Objections to the R&R (Dkt. # 16), to which Defendant responded (Dkt. # 18). After reviewing the R&R and the parties' briefs, the court concludes that a hearing is unnecessary. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons stated below and in the well-reasoned R&R, the court will overrule Plaintiff's objections and adopt the R&R.

         I. STANDARD

         A. Timely Objections and De Novo Review

         The filing of timely objections to an R&R requires the court to “make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673-74 (1980); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 949 (6th Cir. 1981). This de novo review requires the court to re-examine all of the relevant evidence previously reviewed by the magistrate judge in order to determine whether the recommendation should be accepted, rejected, or modified in whole or in part. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         “The filing of objections provides the district court with the opportunity to consider the specific contentions of the parties and to correct any errors immediately, ” Walters, 638 F.2d at 950, enabling the court “to focus attention on those issues-factual and legal-that are at the heart of the parties' dispute, ” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). As a result, “‘[o]nly those specific objections to the magistrate's report made to the district court will be preserved for appellate review; making some objections but failing to raise others will not preserve all the objections a party may have.'” McClanahan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 837 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Smith v. Detroit Fed'n of Teachers Local 231, 829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987)).

         B. Substantial Evidence Standard

         In a social security case, 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. Admin., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007)); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). When, as here, the Appeals Council declines review of a plaintiff's claim, “the decision of the ALJ becomes the final decision of the [Commissioner].” Casey v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993).

         The court's review of the record for substantial evidence is quite deferential to the ALJ. “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, ” Pittsburgh & Conneaut Dock Co. v. Dir., Office of Workers' Comp. Programs, 473 F.3d 253, 259 (6th Cir. 2007), “even if that evidence could support a decision the other way, ” Casey, 987 F.2d at 1233. Moreover, the court bases its review on the entire administrative record, not just what the ALJ cited. Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 535 (6th Cir. 2001). “Even if supported by substantial evidence, however, a decision of the Commissioner will not be upheld where the [Social Security Administration] 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)).


         A. Objection One

         Plaintiff's first objection merely reiterates parts of the argument section from his Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 13, Pg. ID 1215-1218), attempting to rebrand them as objections to the R&R. (Dkt. #16, Pg. ID 1288, 1292-1296.) Plaintiff's few additions to his earlier arguments appear to be nothing other than general objections to the Magistrate Judge's recommendations. Disagreement with the Magistrate Judge's recommendations without any argument as to the specific errors in the Magistrate Judge's analysis is the equivalent of failing to file an objection. See Wallace v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 15-11839, 2016 WL 4409062, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 19, 2016).

         Further, the arguments Plaintiff advances in his general objections were sufficiently considered and rejected by the Magistrate Judge who concluded that the ALJ's findings were based on substantial evidence in the record. For example, Plaintiff complains that this court should reject the R&R because the ALJ did not incorporate a reaching limitation beyond the overhead limitation. Quoting from Plaintiff's brief, Judge Majzoub expressly considered this argument and rejected it in the R&R. (Dkt. #15, Pg. ID 1272.) Judge Majzoub concluded that the ALJ properly relied on Dr. Mahmood Rahim's opinion[1] that Plaintiff had “normal movement of all extremities” as well as Dr. Dinesh Tanna's opinion[2] that Plaintiff was only limited in his ability to reach overhead. Plaintiff raises no specific objections to Magistrate Judge Majzoub's analysis in the R&R on this point, but merely repeats his brief in opposition to the ALJ's findings. The court will not entertain the rehashing of previous arguments, ...

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