United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
R. Grand Mag. Judge
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. LEVY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Magistrate Judge David R. Grand's Report and
Recommendation (“R&R”) (ECF No. 22)
recommending that the Court grant defendant Commissioner of
Social Security's (the “government”) motion
for summary judgment (ECF No. 19), deny plaintiff Joyce
Rottman's (“Rottman”) motion for summary
judgment (ECF No. 15), and affirm the Administrative Law
Judge's (“ALJ”) decision. Rottman submitted
four objections to the R&R, (ECF No. 25), and the
government responded. (ECF No. 26.) For the reasons set forth
below, Rottman's objections are overruled, and the
R&R is adopted in full.
Court has carefully reviewed the R&R and is satisfied
that it is a thorough account of the relevant portions of the
record. The Court incorporates the factual background from
the R&R as if set forth herein.
may object to a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation on dispositive motions, and a district judge
must resolve proper objections under a de novo standard of
review. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)-(C); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(1)-(3). “For an objection to be proper, Eastern
District of Michigan Local Rule 72.1(d)(1) requires parties
to ‘specify the part of the order, proposed findings,
recommendations, or report to which [the party] objects'
and to ‘state the basis for the objection.'”
Pearce v. Chrysler Group LLC Pension Plan, 893 F.3d
339, 346 (6th Cir. 2018). Objections that restate arguments
already presented to the magistrate judge are improper,
Coleman-Bey v. Bouchard, 287 Fed.Appx. 420, 422 (6th
Cir. 2008) (citing Brumley v. Wingard, 269 F.3d 629,
647 (6th Cir. 2001)), as are those that dispute the general
correctness of the report and recommendation. Miller v.
Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995).
objections must be clear so that the district court can
“discern those issues that are dispositive and
contentious.” Id. (citing Howard v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509
(6th Cir. 1991)); see also Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S.
140, 147 (1985) (explaining that objections must go to
“factual and legal” issues “at the heart of
the parties' dispute”). In sum, Rottman's
objections must be clear and specific enough that the Court
can squarely address them on the merits. See Pearce,
893 F.3d at 346.
Supreme Court recently articulated the standard the district
court must apply when conducting its de novo review. In
Biestek v. Berryhill, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019),
the Court explained that the phrase “substantial
evidence” is a “term of art.” Id.
(internal citations omitted). “Under the
substantial-evidence standard, a court looks to an existing
administrative record and asks whether it contains
‘sufficien[t] evidence' to support the agency's
factual determinations.” Id. (internal
citations omitted). “And whatever the meaning of
‘substantial' in other contexts, the threshold for
such evidentiary sufficiency is not high. Substantial
evidence . . . is ‘more than a mere
scintilla.'” Id. (internal citations
omitted). Specifically, “[i]t means-and means
only-'such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'”
Id. (internal citations omitted).
first objection, Rottman argues that the ALJ did not properly
weigh the opinion of her endocrinologist, Dr. Ashish Verma.
(ECF No. 25 PageID.1384.) Rottman's first objection has
three parts. She argues that the ALJ: (1) “selectively
chose” from the restrictions in Dr. Verma's opinion
in determining the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) and provided no reason for disregarding
the other restrictions (Id. at PageID.1386); (2)
provided unpersuasive reasons for giving little weight to Dr.
Verma's opinion (Id. at PageID.1388, 1390-1395);
and (3) impermissibly substituted his own medical judgment
for that of Dr. Verma's (Id. at PageID.1389.).
Verma is an endocrinologist who has been treating Rottman
since 2006. (Tr. 818.) He completed two nearly-identical
medical source statements on July 27, 2016 and October 17,
2016, with the only difference between them being that, in
the later-dated statement, he indicated that his medical
findings and limitations were present since June 2014, which
was not included in his earlier statement. (Tr. 818-19;
1195-96.) Dr. Verma opined that Rottman's symptoms of
diabetic neuropathy included sensory changes in both her
hands and feet, reflex changes in her feet, grip strength
weakness in both hands, pain in her feet and hands, and loss
of vibration sense. (Tr. 818.) He also noted that Rottman
could sit for up to four hours, and stand/walk for one hour.
(Id.) He stated that she could lift or carry five
pounds for up to one-third of an eight-hour work day, and
that she would need breaks every one to two hours to check
her blood sugar. (Tr. 819.) He also stated that she would be
able to occasionally use her extremities for simple grasping
and reaching, but never for pushing/pulling, fine
manipulating, or foot/leg controls. (Id.) He also
noted that, while engaging in occasional standing or walking,
Rottman should use a cane because she has “neuropathy
legs with poor balance.” (Id.)
decision, the ALJ considered Dr. Verma's opinions, and,
while the ALJ did “not contest that [Rottman] has
peripheral neuropathy, ” he concluded that “this
condition has been accommodated by limiting her work at the
light exertional level, restricting her use of bilateral foot
controls to occasional, and precluding her from work around
unprotected heights and moving, mechanical parts.” (ECF
No. 11-2 at PageID.54.) He also noted that, as to her hands,
Rottman's “reduced grip strength that is noted by
Dr. Verma has also been accounted for with the limitation