United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
HEATHER L. PIKE, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER OVERRULING IN PART and SUSTAINING
IN PART OBJECTIONS , ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN
PART REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION , GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT OR REMAND , AND DENYING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("SSA") denied Heather Pike's application for
supplemental security income and disability insurance
benefits in a decision issued by an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"). After the SSA Appeals Council declined to
review the ruling, Pike appealed. ECF 1. The Court referred
the matter to Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis, and
the parties cross-motions for summary judgment. ECF 3, 12,
13. The magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation
("Report") advising the Court to deny Pike's
motion and grant the Commissioner's motion. ECF 14. Pike
filed timely objections to the Report. ECF 15. After
examining the record and considering Pike's objections de
novo, the Court will deny her first objection but sustain her
second objection. The Court will therefore adopt in part and
reject in part the Report, deny the Commissioner's motion
for summary judgment, grant Pike's motion for summary
judgment or remand, and remand the case to the Commissioner
for further proceedings.
Report properly details the events giving rise to Pike's
action against the Commissioner. ECF 14, PgID 620–21.
The Court will adopt that portion of the Report.
who receive an adverse final decision from the Commissioner
may appeal the decision to a federal district court. 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). When reviewing a case under §
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." Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997) (citations omitted).
"Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance" such that
"a reasonable mind might accept [the evidence] as
adequate to support a conclusion." Cutlip v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). An ALJ may consider the
entire body of evidence without directly addressing each
piece in his decision. Loral Def. Sys.–Akron v.
N.L.R.B., 200 F.3d 436, 453 (6th Cir. 1999) (citation
omitted). "Nor must an ALJ 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. (internal
quotations and citation omitted) (alteration omitted).
Rule 72(b) governs the review of a magistrate judge's
report. A district court's standard of review depends on
whether a party files objections. 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,
149–50 (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). In conducting a de novo review, the
Court "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.
raises two objections. The Court will address each in turn.
First, Pike objects to the magistrate judge's
determination that the ALJ properly found that she could
perform sedentary jobs. ECF 15, PgID 646–50. Pike
largely rehashes her summary judgment argument. Compare
Id. with ECF 12, PgID 589–91. "Objections
that are merely recitations of the identical arguments that
were before the magistrate judge do not constitute specific
written objections to the proposed findings and
recommendations, " and the Court is therefore "not
obligated to address" such objections. England v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 15-12818, 2016 WL 5939288,
at *3 (E.D. Mich. Oct. 13, 2016) (internal quotations and
citations omitted). To the extent that Pike's objection
mirrors her summary judgment argument, the Court will not
briefly raises what appears to be a new argument that the
magistrate judge applied the incorrect legal standard, but
her argument is unfounded. Contrary to Pike's assertion,
ECF 15, PgID 647, the ALJ did not find non-exertional
limitations. See ECF 9-2, PgID 53 (ALJ decision, finding
"that the claimant has the residual functional capacity
to perform the full range of unskilled sedentary work").
Pike's reliance on the hypotheticals that the ALJ posed
to the vocational expert is misplaced. See ECF 15, PgID
647–48. The ALJ did not ultimately determine that Pike
suffers from the non-exertional limitations included in her
hypothetical. The ALJ therefore did not err in relying on the
grids, and the magistrate judge in turn did not apply the
wrong legal standard by relying on Morris v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec., No. 1:13-cv-01048-STA-cgc, 2017 WL 2191668
(W.D. Tenn. May 18, 2017). As the magistrate judge noted,
"all jobs under the grids are unskilled, " so a
limitation that a plaintiff can perform only unskilled work
does not affect that plaintiff's "ability to perform
the full range of sedentary work." ECF 14, PgID 628
(quoting Morris, 2017 WL 2191668, at *6). And the grid rules
for sedentary work "satisf[y] the Commissioner's
burden of showing that work exists in significant No. in the
national economy which [Pike] can perform." Morris, 2017
WL 2191668, at *6. The Court will therefore overrule
Pike's first objection.
Pike objects to the magistrate judge's conclusion that
the ALJ did not err in giving only limited weight to the
opinion of Pike's treating physician, Dr. Richter. ECF
15, PgID 650–52. Pike again largely rehashes her
summary judgment argument. Compare Id. with ECF 12,
PgID 591–94. But Pike does pose two specific objections
to the magistrate judge's treatment of her initial
argument. First, Pike takes issue with the magistrate
judge's factual determination, arguing that, contrary to
the magistrate judge's finding, Pike did discuss her
vertigo symptoms with Dr. Walford. ECF 15, PgID 651. Second,
Pike contends that the magistrate judge's legal
conclusion that ...