United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
RITA E. RIDDLE, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Patricia T. Morris, Magistrate Judge.
OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN
PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION , GRANTING IN PART
RIDDLE'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT , AND DENYING
THE COMMISSIONER'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. MICHELSON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
Riddle applied for Disability Insurance Benefits based upon
numerous ailments, including fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism,
and obesity. In 2011, her claim was denied. In 2013, Riddle
again applied for benefits. In November 2015, an
administrative law judge (ALJ), acting on behalf of the
Commissioner of Social Security, concluded that, while
Riddle's physical condition had worsened since her prior
denial, it had not deteriorated to a degree that rendered her
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.
Riddle appealed to this Court. The Court referred the case to
Magistrate Judge Patricia Morris who issued a Report and
Recommendation to grant the Commissioner's motion for
summary judgment and to deny Riddle's. Riddle makes two
the Court appreciates the Magistrate Judge's thorough
consideration of the issues presented in the motions, for the
reasons explained below, the Court respectfully disagrees
with one aspect of her analysis and recommended disposition.
Thus, the Court will adopt in part and reject in part the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation and remand
this action for further administrative proceedings.
Court performs a de novo review of those portions of
the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which
the parties have objected. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b). The Court need not and does not perform a de
novo review of the report's unobjected-to findings.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985);
Garrison v. Equifax Info. Servs., LLC, No. 10
-13990, 2012 WL 1278044, at *8 (E.D. Mich. Apr. 16, 2012).
Court must affirm the Commissioner's conclusions absent a
determination that the Commissioner has failed to apply the
correct legal standards or has made findings of fact
unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.”
Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390
(6th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). “The substantial
evidence standard is met if a reasonable mind might accept
the relevant evidence as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005) (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted). Supporting a conclusion
means there is more than a “scintilla” of
evidence but it need not amount to a preponderance. See
Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241
(6th Cir. 2007). “Even if supported by substantial
evidence, however, a decision of the Commissioner will not be
upheld where the SSA 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); see also Cole v. Astrue, 661 F.3d
931, 937 (6th Cir. 2011) (“An ALJ's failure to
follow agency rules and regulations denotes a lack of
substantial evidence, even where the conclusion of the ALJ
may be justified based upon the record.”) (citations
and quotations omitted).
Report explicitly told the parties that each objection
“must recite precisely the provision of this Report and
Recommendation to which it pertain.” (R. 17, PID 748.)
Unfortunately, Riddle's first objection neither recites
the precise provision of the Report to which she objects nor
does she clearly state her objection. Thus, the Court will
review what it gleans to be Riddle's first objection.
Riddle argues that her pain specialist's records
demonstrate complete disability. Next, Riddle asserts that
the Magistrate Judge provided improper post-hoc
evidence and rationale to support the ALJ's residual
functional capacity (RFC) assessment. Riddle then adds three
cursory objections: that the ALJ erred by not discussing her
obesity apart from its “cumulative impact”
“in combination with her other medical
conditions”; that the ALJ did not make clear what
weight she was assigning to Riddle's testimony or to her
pain specialist; and that the ALJ erred in finding that
methadone was not prescribed before the date last insured.
(See R. 18, PID 749-55.)
Commissioner asserts that the three “cursory
objections” are newly-raised and therefore waived. (R.
20, PID 763.)
Court agrees that two of the issues and part of the third
issue are newly-raised and therefore waived. First,
Riddle's motion for summary judgment did not challenge
the ALJ's consideration of her obesity. (See R.
13.) The motion did not claim that the ALJ erred in
determining when Riddle began taking methadone. (See
id.) And the motion did not raise the ALJ's failure
to assign a weight to the pain specialist's records.
(Id.) So these issues are deemed waived. See
Swain v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 379 Fed.Appx. 512,
517-18 (6th Cir. 2010) (citing Ward v. United
States, 208 F.3d 216 (table) (6th Cir. 2000)).
motion for summary judgment did, however, contest the
credibility assessment of her testimony and the ALJ's
failure to articulate what weight she gave Riddle's
testimony. (R. 13, PID 688.) So the Court will review the
objection with respect to Riddle's testimony. Riddle,
aside from summarizing her argument to the Magistrate Judge,
does not ...