United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
JNN, a minor child by Cora E. Williams, Parent and Next Friend, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Judge R. Steven Whalen
ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING
THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT, AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge
August 27, 2013, Plaintiff JNN, a minor child, by Cora E.
Williams, parent and next friend (“Plaintiff” or
“Claimant”), applied for supplemental security
income with an alleged disability onset date of October 12,
2002. Claimant's application was initially denied on
February 11, 2014. Claimant requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing was held on May
20, 2015, after which the ALJ issued a decision finding that
JNN was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied review.
Plaintiff sought review in this Court on October 10, 2016.
The case was referred to Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen.
The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. Judge
Whalen issued a report recommending that the Court grant
Defendant's motion and deny Plaintiff's motion.
Plaintiff filed timely objections to Judge Whalen's
report and recommendation.
party has specifically objected to Judge Whalen's summary
of the facts and history of the administrative proceedings in
the case. That summary is therefore adopted in full. Notably,
the ALJ found that JNN had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset of the disability. ECF No.
12-2 at 26. The ALJ found that JNN was a school aged child on
the date the application was filed and is currently an
adolescent under 20 CFR 416.926a(g)(2). Id. The ALJ
found that JNN suffered from the following severe
impairments: asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Id. The ALJ
determined that JNN does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id. (citing 20 CFR
416.924-419.926). Finally, the ALJ found that JNN does not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that
functionally equals the severity of a listing under 20 CFR
416.924(d) and 414.926(a), and that JNN was therefore not
disabled. Id. at 26-40.
reviewing a case under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the 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.”
Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525,
528 (6th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted). Substantial evidence
is “such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Id.
U.S.C. § 1382c (a)(3)(C)(I) provides that “[a]n
individual under the age of 18 shall be considered
disabled” if he or she “has a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which results in
marked and severe functional limitations.” In
evaluating whether a child is disabled, the Commissioner is
to consider, in sequence, whether the child claimant 1) is
“doing substantial gainful activity, ” 2) has a
severe impairment, and 3) has “an impairment(s) that
meets, medically equals, or functionally equals the
listings.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). In determining
whether the child claimant is disabled at the third step, the
Commissioner determines functional ability in six domains:
(1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and
completing tasks; (3) interacting and relating with others;
(4) moving about and manipulating objects; (5) caring for
oneself; and (6) health and physical well-being. 20 CFR
§ 926a(b)(1). In order to functionally equal the
listings, the claimant must establish “marked”
limitations in two of these domains, or “extreme”
limitations in one domain. 20 CFR § 416.926a. A
“marked” limitation is defined as an
impairment(s) that “interferes seriously” with
the ability “to independently initiate, sustain, or
complete activities.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(2).
An “extreme” limitation “interferes very
seriously” with the ability “to independently
initiate, sustain, or complete activities” (emphasis
added). 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(3).
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, a party may object to
and seek review of a Magistrate Judge's report and
recommendation. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). Objections must be
stated with specificity. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 151 (1985) (citation omitted). If objections are made,
“[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part
of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been
properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). De novo
review requires at least a review of the evidence before the
Magistrate Judge; the Court may not act solely on the basis
of a Magistrate Judge's report and recommendation.
See Hill v. Duriron Co., 656 F.2d 1208, 1215 (6th
Cir. 1981). After reviewing the evidence, the Court is free
to accept, reject, or modify the findings or recommendations
of the Magistrate Judge. See Lardie v. Birkett, 221
F.Supp.2d 806, 807 (E.D. Mich. 2002).
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 and citation omitted).
A general objection, or one that merely restates the
arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently
identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge.
See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D.
Mich. 2004). An “objection” that does nothing
more than disagree with a magistrate judge's
determination, “without explaining the source of the
error, ” is not considered a valid objection.
Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Without specific objections,
“[t]he functions of the district court are effectively
duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court
perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort
wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs
contrary to the purposes of the Magistrate's Act.”