United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
RENEE M. BROMLEY, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Stephanie Dawkins Davis, United States Magistrate Judge.
AND ORDER: (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF NO.
17); (2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S SEPTEMBER 15,
2017 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF NO. 16); (3) DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 13); (4)
GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO.
14); AND (5) AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF
D. Borman, United States District Judge.
September 15, 2017, Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis
issued a Report and Recommendation on the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment. (ECF No. 16, Report and
Recommendation.) In the Report and Recommendation, the
Magistrate Judge recommended that this Court deny Plaintiff
Renee M. Bromley's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
13, Pl.'s Mot.), grant Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14,
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.
11-11-10, Transcript of Social Security Proceedings
(hereinafter “Tr. at ”) at
before the Court are Plaintiffs Objections to the Report and
Recommendation. (ECF No. 17, Pl.'s Objs.) Defendant filed
a timely Response. (ECF No. 18, 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. (See Report and Recommendation at
2-4.) The Court adopts that account here.
summary, Plaintiff filed the instant claims on November 18,
2013, alleging disability beginning October 24, 2013. After
Plaintiff's claims were initially disapproved by the
Commissioner of Social Security on April 22, 2014, Plaintiff
requested a hearing, which was conducted on May 7, 2015
before Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) Christopher Ambrose.
(Report and Recommendation at 2.)
decision issued on May 13, 2015, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not disabled. The Magistrate Judge summarized
the ALJ's specific findings as follows:
The ALJ applied the five-step disability analysis [required
by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)] to plaintiff's claims
and found at step one that plaintiff did not engage in any
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
(Tr. 13). At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: status post left parameridian
stroke, hypertension, insulin dependent diabetes, nicotine
dependency, adjustment disorder with depressed mood, obesity,
and status post thyroid cancer with thyroidectomy.
(Id.). At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff
did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that
met or equaled one of the listings in the regulations. (Tr.
14). The ALJ determined that plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform:
…light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b) except the claimant can frequently use
foot controls with right lower extremity. She can frequently
handle of (sic) objects and can occasionally finger of (sic)
objects with right upper extremity. The claimant can climb no
ladders, ropes or scaffolds. She can occasionally climb ramps
or stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. The
claimant is able to perform simple, routine and repetitive
tasks with only occasional interactions with the public and
(Tr. 15). At step four, the ALJ determined that plaintiff
could not perform her past relevant work. (Tr. 17). At step
five, the ALJ denied plaintiff benefits because he found that
plaintiff could perform a significant number of jobs
available in the national economy. (Tr. 18).
and Recommendation at 3-4.)
recommending that this Court affirm the ALJ's findings,
the Magistrate Judge addressed three distinct challenges that
Plaintiff raised to those findings in her Motion for Summary
Judgment. First, the Magistrate Judge found that the
ALJ's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) determination was
supported by substantial evidence even though the record did
not contain a physician's assessment specifically
detailing Plaintiff's physical limitations, both because
Plaintiff's medical records and state agency physician
testimony undermined the credibility of Plaintiff's own
testimony as to her limitations, and because Plaintiff did
not establish that the ALJ had an obligation to order a
consultative examination (or that there was any evidence that
such an examination would have yielded a different result).
(See Report and Recommendation at 15-21.) Second,
the Magistrate Judge found that the RFC as determined by the
ALJ adequately accounts for Plaintiff's mental
impairments, and that there was no indication that the
hypothetical that the ALJ posed to the testifying vocational
expert (“VE”) was insufficient
to convey any cognitive limitations that Plaintiff had. In a
similar vein, the Magistrate Judge found that the RFC
adequately accounts for Plaintiff's obesity because there
was no indication that the ALJ failed to sufficiently
consider that impairment throughout the five-step disability
evaluation. (See Report and Recommendation at
21-26.) Finally, the Magistrate Judge found that the
ALJ's determination that Plaintiff could perform a
significant number of jobs available in the national economy
was supported by substantial evidence because Plaintiff had
not shown a failure on the ALJ's part to reconcile his
RFC determination with the available jobs specified by the
VE. (See Report and Recommendation at 26-28.)
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 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 ...