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Hoon v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 22, 2018

Robert Hoon, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Anthony P. Patti Mag. Judge

          ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE PATTI'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [19]

          JUDITH E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On February 26, 2018, Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti issued a Report and Recommendation recommending the Court deny plaintiff's motion for remand (Dkt. 15), grant defendant's motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 17), and affirm the Commissioner's decision to deny plaintiff benefits under the Social Security Act. (Dkt. 19.)

         Plaintiff filed three timely objections to Magistrate Judge Patti's Report and Recommendation on February 26, 2018. (Dkt. 20.) Where a magistrate judge has submitted a Report and Recommendation and a party has timely filed objections to some or all of the Report and Recommendation, the Court must review de novo those parts of the Report and Recommendation to which the party has objected. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         I. Background

         The Court adopts by reference the background set forth in the Report and Recommendation, having reviewed it and found it to be accurate and sufficiently thorough. (Dkt. 19 at 2-6.)

         II. Analysis

         The Court's review of a determination of the Commissioner of Social Security “is limited to determining whether it is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir.2007). “Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but more than a scintilla; it refers to relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Gentry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 741 F.3d 708, 722 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Rogers, 486 F.3d at 241). When determining “whether substantial evidence supports the [Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”)] decision, [the Court does] not try the case de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or decide questions of credibility. Instead, [the Court] considers the ALJ's decision determinative if there is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as sufficient to support the ALJ's conclusion.” Bass v. McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citations and quotations omitted).

         A. Objection No. 1

          Plaintiff's first objection to Magistrate Judge Patti's Report and Recommendation is that it improperly rejects plaintiff's argument that the ALJ erred in evaluating the credibility of the various doctors who examined and treated plaintiff for his alleged disability. (Dkt. 20 at 1-5.) Plaintiff explains the conclusions of the various doctors that treated him, and explains why the ALJ erred in the weight he assigned to each of them. (Id.)

         Such an argument is not proper at this stage of the proceedings. A district court does not weigh evidence when reviewing an ALJ's decision, and “if substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision, [this Court] defer[s] to that finding ‘even if there is substantial evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite conclusion.'” Blakley v. Comm'r Of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Key v. Callahan, 109 F.3d 270, 273 (6th Cir. 1997)); see also Mullins v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 836 F.2d 980, 984 (“Claimant's argument rests solely on the weight to be given opposing medical opinions, which is clearly not a basis for our setting aside the ALJ's factual findings.”).

         In other words, it is not this Court's role to go back through the record and determine which doctor's testimony should be given which amount of weight. Instead, the District Court is limited to determining only if there was “substantial evidence” supporting the ALJ's conclusions. As Magistrate Judge Patti explains in the Report and Recommendation, there is substantial evidence supporting the ALJ's weight determinations for each doctor, and the ALJ complied with the Social Security Administration's regulations for supporting his credibility determinations. (Dkt. 19 at 10-14.) See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(c)(2)-(6), 416.927(c)(2)-(6) (laying out factors for weighing doctors' opinions); Francis v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 414 F. App'x 802, 804-05 (6th Cir. 2011) (explaining that the regulations require only “good reasons for the weight given to the treating source's opinion[, ] not an exhaustive factor-by-factor analysis.”) (internal formatting omitted). Accordingly, the reasoning in the Report and Recommendation is adopted and plaintiff's first objection is overruled.

         B. Objection No. 2

         Plaintiff's second objection to the Report and Recommendation is that the Magistrate Judge improperly adopted the ALJ's determination regarding plaintiff's credibility. (Dkt. 20 at 5-6.) Specifically, plaintiff suggests the ALJ's credibility determination is inconsistent with the ...


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