United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
MARY E. THORNTON, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
MARIANNE O. BATTANI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Mary Thornton's objections (Doc.
23) to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation
("R&R") (Doc. 22). Thornton filed an action
seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Defendant
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("Commissioner") under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Each side filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 18, Doc.
matter was referred to Magistrate Judge David R. Grand, who
found that substantial evidence supported the Administrative
Law Judge's ("ALJ") and the Commissioner's
decision to deny benefits. (Doc. 22). For the reasons stated
below, the Court ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's R&R;
GRANTS Defendant's motion for summary judgment and DENIES
Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. I.
filed the present action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
challenging the final decision of the Commissioner denying
her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income
("SSI") under the Social Security Act (the
"Act"). Thornton asserts that the
Commissioner's decision is not based upon substantial
evidence. (Doc. 1).
matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Grand for
determination of all non-dispositive motions pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and issuance of a Report and
Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and
(C). Each side filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 18,
Doc. 19). Magistrate Judge Grand found that the Commissioner
applied the correct legal standards and made findings of fact
that were supported by substantial evidence in the record,
and recommended that the Commissioner's Motion for
Summary Judgment be granted, Thornton's Motion for
Summary Judgment be denied, and that, pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the ALJ's decision be
affirmed. (Doc. 22).
Standard of Review
district court must conduct a de novo review of the
parts of a Magistrate Judge's R&R to which a party
objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court
"may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate."
Id. The requirement of de novo review
"is a statutory recognition that Article III of the
United States Constitution mandates that the judicial power
of the United States be vested in judges with life
tenure." United States v. Shami, 754 F.2d 670,
672 (6th Cir.1985). Accordingly, Congress enacted 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1) to "insure[ ] that the district judge
would be the final arbiter" of a matter referred to a
magistrate judge. Flournov v. Marshall, 842 F.2d
875, 878 (6th Cir. 1987).
Court must affirm the Commissioner's conclusions so long
as the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards and
made findings of fact that are supported by substantial
evidence in the record. Walters v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec, 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). Substantial
evidence is evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate evidence in support a conclusion, ki This means that
are not subject to reversal merely because substantial
evidence exists in the record to support a different
conclusion. The substantial evidence standard presupposes
that there is a 'zone of choice' within which the
[Commissioner] may proceed without interference from the
courts. If the [administrative] decision is supported by
substantial evidence, a reviewing court must affirm.
Feliskv v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027, 1035 (6th Cir. 1994)
(citations omitted). The Sixth Circuit has further explained,
"[i]f supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner's decision must be affirmed, even if the
reviewing court would decide the case differently and even if
the claimant's position is also supported by substantial
evidence. Linscomb v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 25
Fed.Appx. 264, 266 (6th Cir. 2001) (citations
raises two objections to the R&R. First, Thornton
contends that the Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that
the ALJ properly found that Thornton's testimony was not
fully credible because Thornton failed to comply with
prescribed treatment. Second, Thornton asserts that the
Magistrate Judge erred in approving the ALJ's
consideration of "other factors" in the ALJ's
respect to the first objection, Thornton contends that, in
concluding that Thornton's credibility was diminished by
her failure to follow prescribed medical treatment, the ALJ
erred by failing to consider medical records suggesting that
"the reason[s] for noncompliance indicate a connection
to Thornton's mental impairments." (Doc. 23, p. 2).
The Magistrate Judge acknowledged that certain records
indicated that Thornton "did not take her medications
because she either thought they would lower her blood
pressure too much, the pharmacist allegedly told her not to
take them, or she did not realize she was supposed to be
taking a certain medication along with others, " but
also noted that many of the records indicated that Thornton
"was failing to comply with her treatment regimen ... as
a result of something other than her mental impairment."
(Doc. 22, p. 14). The use of "something other" in
this context is clearly meant to connote that the records
offer no explanation as to why Thornton failed to comply. The
Magistrate Judge went on to conclude that "there is
simply no indication from the record that [Thornton] was
mentally unable to understand her treatment, " and
emphasized the ALJ's observation that "[a]
psychiatric specialty examination showed that she had fair to
good insight and judgment, and intact memory and
attention/concentration (Tr. 516). She was generally able to
measure her blood ...