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Royalty v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 6, 2018

YVONNE RENE ROYALTY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Mona K. Majzoub Magistrate Judge

          ORDER: (1) ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (Doc. # 21); (2) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. # 19); AND (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. # 16)

          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge

         I. Background

         Yvonne Royalty (“Royalty”) filed an application for Social Security disability benefits on March 26, 2014. She claims she has been disabled since September 1, 2012 due to osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, depression, osteopenia, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Royalty brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). She appeals the denial of disability benefits by the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”). The Appeals Council denied Royalty's Request for Review of the decision issued by the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). That ALJ decision stands as the Commissioner's final decision. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. The Court referred those motions to Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub.

         In her motion for summary judgment, Royalty argues: 1) the ALJ failed to consider the effect of Royalty's obesity on her residual functional capacity (“RFC”), as required by Social Security regulations; 2) the ALJ committed reversible error by failing to consider whether her obesity equals an impairment found in the listing of impairments, specifically Listing 1.04A; and 3) the ALJ's credibility findings are not supported by substantial evidence.

         The Commissioner argues in its motion for summary judgment that: 1) the ALJ properly considered Royalty's obesity in assessing her RFC and whether she was impaired under Listing 1.04; 2) Royalty failed to show that she meets all the specified medical criteria, even considering her obesity, for a Listing 1.04 impairment; and 3) substantial evidence supports the ALJ's conclusion that Royalty's statements as to the intensity, persistence, and limiting symptoms of her impairments were not entirely supported.

         Magistrate Judge Majzoub issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”). She recommends that the Court grant the Commissioner's motion and deny Royalty's. Magistrate Judge Majzoub concluded that: 1) the ALJ adequately considered Royalty's obesity in accordance with Social Security Regulation in determining her RFC and her possible impairments under Listing 1.04; 2) Royalty did not demonstrate that she experienced the simultaneous presence of all of the medical criteria in Listing 1.04A for a continuous 12 months, as required; and, 3) the ALJ's assessment of Royalty's credibility is supported by substantial evidence.

         Royalty filed three objections, arguing that Magistrate Judge Majzoub: 1) was too easily satisfied that the ALJ's treatment of the effects of her impairments was supported by substantial evidence; 2) erred in upholding the ALJ's Listing 1.04 determination as supported by substantial evidence; and 3) erred in upholding the ALJ's finding that her credibility was not supported by substantial evidence.

         II. Standard of Review

          A person may seek judicial review of any final decision of the Commissioner; however, the findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. 42 U.S.C. § 405.

         “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance … .” Brainard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989) (citing Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). It exists when a reasonable mind could accept the evidence as adequate to support the challenged conclusion, even if that evidence could also support the opposite conclusion. Casey v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993). And, if the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, it must stand, regardless of whether the Court would resolve the disputed facts differently. Bogle v. Sullivan, 998 F.2d 342, 347 (6th Cir. 1993).

         After proper objections are made, the Court conducts a de novo review of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation on a dispositive motion. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); F. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). A court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Id. A district court need not conduct de novo review where the objections are “[f]rivolous, conclusive or general.” Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir.1986) (citation omitted); see also Rice v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 169 Fed.Appx. 452, 453-54 (6th Cir. 2006) (“issues adverted to in a perfunctory manner, unaccompanied by some effort at developed argumentation, are deemed waived.”) (quoting McPherson v. Kelsey, 125 F.3d 989, 995-96 (6th Cir.1997)). After completing a de novo review, there is no requirement that the district court articulate all of the reasons it rejects a party's objections. Tuggle v. Seabold, 806 F.2d 87, 93 (6th Cir. 1986); Dickey-Williams v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 975 F.Supp.2d 792, 798 (E.D. Mich. 2013).

         III. Analysis

         After de novo review of the cross motions for summary judgment, the R&R, Royalty's objections, the Commissioner's response, and the remainder of the ...


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