United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S
OBJECTIONS; (2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT
AND RECOMMENDATION; (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT; AND (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
H. CLELAND, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Paul Loesel appeals from Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's denial of his application for disability
insurance benefits. Before the court are the parties'
cross motions for summary judgment. (Dkt. # 16, 19.) The case
was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Patricia T.
Morris pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local
Rule 72.1. Judge Morris issued a Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) on August 31, 2017, advising this
court to deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and
grant Defendant's motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff
filed objections on September 14, 2017 and Defendant
responded on September 28, 2017. Having reviewed the record,
the R&R, the objections, and Plaintiff's response,
the court concludes that a hearing is unnecessary.
See E.D. LR7.1(f)(2). For the reasons stated below
and in the well-reasoned R&R, the court will overrule
Plaintiff's objections and adopt the R&R.
filing of timely objections to an R&R requires the court
to “make a de novo determination of those portions of
the report or specified findings or recommendations to which
objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see
also United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673-74
(1980); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 949
(6th Cir. 1981). This de novo review requires the court to
re-examine all of the relevant evidence previously reviewed
by the magistrate judge in order to determine whether the
recommendation should be accepted, rejected, or modified in
whole or in part. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
filing of objections provides the district court with the
opportunity to consider the specific contentions of the
parties and to correct any errors immediately, ”
Walters, 638 F.2d at 950, enabling the court “to focus
attention on those issues-factual and legal-that are at the
heart of the parties' dispute, ” Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147 (1985). As a result,
“‘[o]nly those specific objections to the
magistrate's report made to the district court will be
preserved for appellate review; making some objections but
failing to raise others will not preserve all the objections
a party may have.'” McClanahan v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 837 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting
Smith v. Detroit Fed'n of Teachers Local 231,
829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987)).
social security case, the court “must affirm the
Commissioner's decision if it ‘is supported by
substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal
standards.'” Rabbers v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241
(6th Cir. 2007)); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). When, as
here, the Appeals Council declines review of a
plaintiff's claim, “the decision of the ALJ becomes
the final decision of the [Commissioner].” Casey v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230,
1233 (6th Cir. 1993). The court's review of the record
for substantial evidence is quite deferential to the ALJ.
“Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance and is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion, ” Pittsburgh & Conneaut
Dock Co. v. Dir., Office of Workers' Comp. Programs,
473 F.3d 253, 259 (6th Cir. 2007), “even if that
evidence could support a decision the other way, ”
Casey, 987 F.2d at 1233. Moreover, the court bases
its review on the entire administrative record, not just what
the ALJ cited. Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
245 F.3d 528, 535 (6th Cir. 2001). “Even if supported
by substantial evidence, however, a decision of the
Commissioner will not be upheld where the [Social Security
Administration] 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) (citing Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378
F.3d 541, 546-47 (6th Cir. 2004)).
raises three objections to the R&R: (1) it erroneously
relied on the ALJ's “lack of treatment”
finding; (2) it failed to credit one of the statements of the
psychological consultant; and (3) it erroneously relied on
the ALJ's incomplete analysis of Plaintiff's
concentration abilities. (Dkt. # 21.)
conducting a de novo review of Plaintiff's objections,
the court concludes that they are meritless and will be
overruled. Plaintiff's objections are arguments that were
presented to the Magistrate Judge in Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment. The R&R correctly addresses and
analyzes the issues raised by Plaintiff's objections.
Plaintiff's first objection is an argument that made in
his summary judgment briefing, the R&R has already
addressed it. (Dkt. # 16, Pg. ID 420.) The R&R explicitly
notes Plaintiff's concern regarding the weight the ALJ
gave to his lack of treatment and whether such consideration
was improper given Sixth Circuit precedent, specifically
McKnight v. Sullivan, 927 F.2d 241 (6th Cir. 1990)
and Strong v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 88 Fed.Appx. 841
(6th Cir. 2004). (See Dkt. # 20, Pg. ID 483-84.) The
R&R properly concluded that the ALJ did not err in
considering Plaintiff's lack of treatment as a factor.
Plaintiff objects to the R&R on the basis that
Strong misinterpreted McKnight. Judge
Morris disagreed as this court does as well. As Defendant
explains in its response to Plaintiff's objections,
Strong is consistent with McKnight because
McKnight “did not address the question of
whether the claimant had a severe impairment if his
conditions were untreated.” (Dkt. # 22, Pg. ID 501.)
second objection is an argument derived directly from his
previous filings and was addressed by both the ALJ and Judge
Morris. (See Dkt. # 16, Pg. ID 419-20) (Plaintiff
arguing that the ALJ failed to consider mentally-based
limitations on Plaintiff's RFC); (Dkt. # 20, Pg. ID 481)
(Judge Morris explicitly addressing and rejecting this
argument) (Dkt. # 21, Pg. ID 493) (Plaintiff rebranding the
same argument as an objection). Judge Morris properly
concluded that the ALJ, did in fact, consider the
psychological consultant's statements concerning
mentally-based limitations when the ALJ reviewed the
consultant's evaluation. (Dkt. # 20, Pg. ID 484.)
third objection argues that the ALJ's analysis of
Plaintiff's concentration abilities was incomplete. In
contrast, the R&R correctly concludes that the ALJ's
determination was supported by substantial evidence. The ALJ
considered “the absence of longitudinal medical
evidence corroborating” some of the psychologist's
concentration findings. (Dkt. # 20, Pg. ID 485.) The ALJ
likewise considered that the finding of “moderately
depressed” was countered by the finding that there was
no evidence that Plaintiff's “mental impairment[s]
are anything other than mild.” (Id.) The court
agrees that the ALJ's findings on this issue are
supported by substantial evidence.
objections are overruled.