Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Schnarr v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 16, 2018

STEPHEN SCHNARR, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          David R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge

         OPINION 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 COMMISSIONER

          PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The 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 3-9.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Where a 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.

         III. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff's 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).

         However, 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. § 404.1527(c)(2)).”).

         “The 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)).

         Objection No. 1: Plaintiff's Heart Condition

         Plaintiff 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.