United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
SUZANNE M. NATTRESS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER (1) ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
FEBRUARY 21, 2018 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [ECF NO. 15]; (2)
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [ECF NO.
11]; AND (3) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT [ECF NO. 13]
V. PARKER U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
filed this lawsuit on November 9, 2016, challenging
Defendant's final decision denying her application for
benefits under the Social Security Act. On the same date, the
matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins
Davis for all pretrial proceedings, including a hearing and
determination of all non-dispositive matters pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and/or a report and recommendation
(“R&R”) on all dispositive matters pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). (ECF No. 2.) The parties
subsequently filed cross-motions for summary judgment. (ECF
Nos. 11, 13.)
February 21, 2018, Magistrate Judge Davis issued an R&R
in which she recommends that this Court deny Plaintiff's
motion, grant Defendant's motion, and affirm
Defendant's decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under
the Social Security Act. (ECF No. 15.) Magistrate Judge Davis
first rejects Plaintiff's argument that the
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred in
assigning significant weight to the opinion of non-examining
psychologist Edward Czarnecki, Ph.D. (Id. at Pg ID
540-43.) Magistrate Judge Davis next rejects Plaintiff's
claim that the ALJ erred in discounting her lower Global
Assessment of Functioning (“GAF”) scores.
(Id. at Pg ID 546-48.)
Judge Davis concludes by advising the parties that they may
object to and seek review of the R&R within fourteen days
of service upon them. (Id. at Pg ID 548.) She
further specifically advises the parties that
“[f]ailure to file specific objections constitutes a
waiver of any further right to appeal.” (Id.)
Plaintiff filed objections on March 6, 2018. (ECF No. 16.)
42 U.S.C. § 405(g):
Any individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security made after a hearing to which he was a
party . . . may obtain a review of such decision by a civil
action . . . The court shall have the power to enter . . . a
judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without
remanding the cause for a rehearing. The findings of the
Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported
by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive . . .
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (emphasis added); see also Boyes
v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 46
F.3d 510, 511-12 (6th Cir. 1994). “Substantial evidence
is defined as ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Abbott v. Sullivan, 905 F.2d
918, 922-23 (6th Cir. 1990) (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). The
Commissioner's findings are not subject to reversal
because substantial evidence exists in the record to support
a different conclusion. Mullen v. Brown, 800 F.2d
535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986) (citing Baker v. Kechler,
730 F.2d 1147, 1150 (8th Cir. 1984)). If the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, a reviewing court must affirm. Studaway v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 815 F.2d 1074,
1076 (6th Cir. 1987).
objections are filed to a magistrate judge's R&R on a
dispositive matter, the Court “make[s] a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court, however,
“is not required to articulate all of the reasons it
rejects a party's objections.” Thomas v.
Halter, 131 F.Supp.2d 942, 944 (E.D. Mich. 2001)
(citations omitted). A party's failure to file objections
to certain conclusions of the report and recommendation
waives any further right to appeal on those issues. See
Smith v. Detroit Fed'n of Teachers Local 231, 829
F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987). Likewise, the failure to
object to certain conclusions in the magistrate judge's
report releases the Court from its duty to independently
review those issues. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 149 (1985).
ALJ's Decision and the R&R
considering a disability claim is required to follow a
five-step sequential process to evaluate the claim. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4). The five-step process is as follows:
1. At the first step, the ALJ considers whether the claimant
is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i).
2. At the second step, the ALJ considers whether the claimant
has a severe medically determinable physical or mental
impairment that meets the duration requirement of the
regulations and which significantly limits the claimant's
ability to do basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii) and (c).
3. At the third step, the ALJ again considers the medical
severity of the claimant's impairment to determine
whether the impairment meets or equals an impairment listed
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). If the claimant's impairment
meets any ...