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Ford v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 28, 2018

ADRIAN FORD, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          DAVID R. GRAND MAGISTRATE, JUDGE

          OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [19], GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [18], AND DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [17]

          STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         After Plaintiff Adrian Ford unsuccessfully sought supplemental security income, he filed the instant suit to challenge the Social Security Administration's final decision. Ford and the Commissioner filed cross-motions for summary judgment and the magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation ("Report"). Ford filed objections, but for the reasons below, the Court will adopt the Report, deny Ford's motion, and grant the Commissioner's motion.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Civil Rule 72(b) governs the review of a magistrate judge's report, and the review varies depending on whether a party objects. The Court need not undertake any review of portions of a report to which no party has objected. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 153 (1985). De novo review is required, however, if the parties "serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2).

         When performing de novo review, "[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         When 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." Longworth v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005) (quotations omitted). Substantial evidence consists of "more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance" such that a "reasonable mind might accept [it] as adequate to support a conclusion." Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (quotations omitted). An ALJ may consider the entire body of evidence without directly addressing each piece in the decision. Kornecky v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 167 Fed.Appx. 496, 507-08 (6th Cir. 2006). And an ALJ need not "make explicit credibility findings as to each bit of conflicting testimony, so long as his factual findings as a whole show that he implicitly resolved such conflicts." Id.

         BACKGROUND

         In a sense, Ford's case dates back to 2012. That is when he initially sought benefits and, as a consequence, he saw a psychologist named Dr. Dickson in November of that year. Dickson made various findings in a written opinion, diagnosed Ford with pervasive developmental disorder and borderline intellectual functioning, and assigned him a Global Assessment of Functioning score of 48. ECF 14-8, PgID 830.

         The rest of the records, however, arose some years later, after Ford filed the application now in dispute. Accordingly, the rest of the relevant medical records were all created in 2016 and two affidavits were sworn to in January 2017. In summary:

         January 19, 2016 - Ford saw Dr. Marshall, a psychologist, who made specific observations about his mental abilities, affect, and emotional state. Id. at 832-35. She provisionally diagnosed him with two "Specific Learning Disorders": one in reading, the other in mathematics. Id. at 834.

         May 13, 2016 - Ford saw Dr. Kirzner, another psychologist, who confirmed the learning disorder diagnoses and also made observations about Ford's mental deficits and opined on his ability to work gainfully. Id. at 843-47.

         October 27, 2016 - Ford saw Dr. Rodriguez, a medical doctor, because of worsening symptoms of depression. Id. at 850-52. Rodriguez did not undertake the same level of detailed findings that the psychologists did, but did ultimately diagnose Ford with a single episode of "[c]hronic major depressive disorder." Id. at 851.

         December 3, 2016 - Ford saw Jayne McCullough, M.A., who administered portions of the "Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement" that evaluated Ford's proficiency in math, reading, and spelling. Id. at 840-41. McCullough concluded that Ford's reading and math levels were "at a beginning first grade level" and opined that he would "have a great deal of difficulty ...


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