United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge
AND ORDER (1) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S NOVEMBER
28, 2017 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (ECF NO. 19), (2)
OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF NO. 20), (3)
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO.
16), (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
(ECF NO. 18), AND (5) AFFIRMING THE FINDINGS OF THE
D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
November 28, 2017, Magistrate Judge David R. Grand issued a
Report and Recommendation to Deny Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment and Grant Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 19, Report and Recommendation.) On
December 12, 2017, Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report
and Recommendation. (ECF No. 20.) Defendant filed a Response
to Plaintiff's Objections. (ECF No. 21.) Having conducted
a de novo review, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1), of those parts of the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation to which specific objections have
been filed, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's Objections,
ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation,
GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
18), DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF
No. 16), and AFFIRMS the findings of the Commissioner.
Magistrate Judge thoroughly set forth the factual and
procedural background in his Report and Recommendation, to
which no Objection has been raised, and the Court adopts
those portions of the Report and Recommendation here. (Report
STANDARD OF REVIEW
party has objected to portions of a Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation, the Court conducts a de
novo review of those portions. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b);
Lyons v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 351 F.Supp.2d 659,
661 (E.D. Mich. 2004). Only those objections that are
specific are entitled to a de novo review under the
statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th
Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to pinpoint
those portions of the magistrate's report that the
district court must specially consider.” Id.
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “A
non- specific objection, or one that merely reiterates
arguments previously presented, does not adequately identify
alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge and
results in a duplication of effort on the part of the
district court: “A general objection to the entirety of
the magistrate's report has the same effects as would a
failure to object. The district court's attention is not
focused on any specific issues for review, thereby making the
initial reference to the magistrate useless.”
Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). Specific objections enable the
Court to focus on the particular issues in contention.
Id. An “objection” that does nothing
more than disagree with a magistrate judge's
determination, “without explaining the source of the
error, ” is not considered a valid objection.
Id. Without specific objections, “[t]he
functions of the district court are effectively duplicated as
both the magistrate and the district court perform identical
tasks. This duplication of time and effort wastes judicial
resources rather than saving them, and runs contrary to the
purposes of the Magistrates Act.” Id.
sole objection is that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding
that the ALJ gave good reasons for discounting the opinions
of Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Nimmagadda as to
Plaintiff's heart and back conditions. The
“treating source rule” is a “mandatory
procedural protection” that requires an ALJ to give
sufficient explanation for disregarding the opinion of a
treating physician. Sawdy v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 436 Fed.Appx. 551, 555 (6th Cir. 2011). “If
an ALJ declines to give controlling weight to such an
opinion, the rule still requires the ALJ to fully consider it
in accordance with certain factors, id. §
404.1527(d)(2)-(6), and to provide ‘good reasons'
for discounting the opinion, id. §
404.1527(d)(2)-i.e., reasons ‘sufficiently specific to
make clear to any subsequent reviewers the weight . . .
[given] to the ... opinion and the reasons for that
weight.'” Id. (quoting SSR 96-2p, 1996 WL
374188, at *5 (July 2, 1996)) (alterations and ellipses in
original). Consideration of those factors - “namely,
the length of the treatment relationship and the frequency of
examination, the nature and extent of the treatment
relationship, supportability of the opinion, consistency of
the opinion with the record as a whole, and the
specialization of the treating source, ” - provides the
“mandatory procedural protection” required when
an ALJ does not give a treating source opinion controlling
weight. Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d
541, 546 (6th Cir. 2004).
the ALJ need not necessarily address each of these factors in
order to provide the procedural safeguards required . See
Webb v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 16-10015, 2017 WL
1164708, at *7 (E.D. Mich. March 29, 2017) (“[T]here is
no per se rule that requires a written articulation
of each of the six regulatory or “Wilson
factors” listed in 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1527(c)(1)-(6), 416.927(c)(1)-(6). Tilley v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 394 Fed.Appx. 216, 222
(6th Cir. 2010). In other words, the regulations do not
require ‘an exhaustive factor-by-factor analysis.'
Francis v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 414 Fed.Appx.
802, 804-805 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(d)(2), now 20 C.F.R. §
ALJ ‘must' give a treating source opinion
controlling weight if the treating source opinion is
‘well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques' and is ‘not
inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in [the]
case record.'” Blakley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Wilson, 378 F.3d at 544 (quoting 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(d)(2)) (alteration in original). “On the other
hand . . . ‘[i]t is an error to give an opinion
controlling weight simply because it is the opinion of a
treating source if it is not well-supported by medically
acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques or
if it is inconsistent the with other substantial evidence in
the case record.'” Id. (quoting Soc. Sec.
Rul. 96-2p, 1996 WL 374188, at *2 (July 2, 1996)). “An
administrative law judge may give more weight to the opinions
of examining or consultative sources where the treating
physician's opinion is not well-supported by the
objective medical records.” Dyer v. Soc. Sec.
Admin., 568 Fed.Appx. 422, 428 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing
Gayheart v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 710 F.3d 365,
376, 379-80 (6th Cir. 2013)).
No. 1: Plaintiff's Heart Condition
argues that the ALJ failed to properly engage in the
“multi-factorial” inquiry envisioned by 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1527(c)(2)-(6) in dismissing the opinions of his
treating physician, Dr. Nimmagadda, regarding Plaintiff's
cardiac-based limitations. But Plaintiff misleadingly quotes
in his Objection only the ALJ's concluding statement,
which followed and was based upon extensive discussion of
substantial record evidence supporting the decision to give
Dr. Nimmagadda's opinion less than controlling weight.
The following are among the specific relevant record
references the ALJ cited in support of his ultimate decision
to give Dr. Nimmagadda's opinion less than controlling
weight. At a November 2008 visit to Dr. Nimmagadda, Plaintiff
had a regular heart rate and blood pressure of 134/90. (ECF
No. 12-2, Transcript of Social Security Proceedings, 10/22/15
Decision “Tr. 16, ” citing Administrative Record
“AR” 4F/62). In March 2009, Plaintiff reported
only episodes of chest pain which had improved since his
previous visit. (Id. citing AR 4F/60.) In April,
2009, Plaintiff visited the hospital with chest pain and test
results were negative. (Id. citing AR 4F/61.) In
September, 2009, Plaintiff complained to Dr. Nimmagadda of
chest pain but Dr. Nimmagadda noted that Plaintiff had
undergone a negative echo stress test the previous day.
(Id. citing AR 4F/59.) In October, 2010, Dr.
Nimmagadda noted that Plaintiff's occasional chest pain
resolved with medication and in January, 2012, despite
reporting symptoms, Plaintiff had a regular heart rate and
rhythm and blood pressure of 140/80. (Id. citing AR
4F/15, 17, 55.) In March, 2013, Dr. Nimmagadda refilled
Plaintiff's medications for angina and hypertension and
in April, 2013, Plaintiff had angioplasty and on discharge
felt well and denied symptoms. (Id. citing AR 4F/9,
11 and 1F.) The following month, Dr. Nimmagadda noted that
Plaintiff had blood pressure of 124/74 and no remarkable
cardiac signs. (Id. citing AR 4F/9.) In April 2014,
Dr. Nimmagadda noted that Plaintiff had only occasional