United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
JAMES E. HORN, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION; GRANTING
DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; AND DENYING
PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
MARIANNE O. BATTANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff James E. Horn’s Objections to
the Magistrate Judge’s Report & Recommendation
(“R&R”). (ECF No. 13). Magistrate Judge
Stephanie Dawkins Davis considered the parties’ cross
motions for summary judgment and, on August 13, 2019, entered
an R&R. (ECF No. 12). In the R&R, the Magistrate
Judge recommended that the Court grant Defendant’s
motion for summary judgment and deny Plaintiff’s motion
for summary judgment. Plaintiff timely objected. For the
reasons that follow, the Court ADOPTS the
R&R, DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion for
Summary Judgment, GRANTS the
Commissioner’s Motion for Summary Judgment, and
DENIES Plaintiff’s Objections.
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
James E. Horn, filed his application for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) on April 18, 2016
(Administrative Transcript (“Tr.”) 11, 65,
130-31). Plaintiff alleged disability beginning September 24,
2015 (Tr. 11, 130). After his application was denied, he
requested a hearing before an Adminiatrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). On November 17, 2017, the ALJ held a
hearing. On January 4, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision
finding that Plaintiff was not disabled (Tr. 8-29). On May 1,
2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request
for review, thus making the ALJ’s January 4, 2018
decision final (Tr. 1-5).
to the standard for disability, 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A), and the sequential evaluation process, 20
C.F.R. § 404.920(a)(4), the ALJ found that Plaintiff had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September
24, 2015; that Plaintiff had the severe impairments,
including major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress
disorder (“PTSD”), panic disorder, and epilepsy;
that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled one of the
impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
1, and that Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium work, as
defined in the governing regulation, with specified
exceptions. The ALJ limited Horn to unskilled work involving
simple, routine, repetitive tasks with no production-like
standards, no work with the public, only occasional
interaction with coworkers and supervisors, and only
occasional changes in the work setting. Because the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work
(Tr. 25, Finding 6), he considered factors including
Plaintiff’s age, education, work experience, and RFC,
and determined that there were jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy that he could perform (Tr.
25, Finding 10). Based on those factors, the ALJ concluded
that Horn was not entitled to benefits.
exhausted his administrative remedies and seeks judicial
review. He contends that the record, as a whole, lacks
evidence to support the decision that he has not been under a
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Objections to a Magistrate Judge’s R&R
district court must conduct a de novo review of the
portions of a magistrate judge’s report and
recommendation to which a party objects. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). The district “court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations
made by the magistrate” judge. Id. The
requirement of de novo review “is a statutory
recognition that Article III of the United States
Constitution mandates that the judicial power of the United
States be vested in judges with life tenure.”
United States v. Shami, 754 F.2d 670, 672 (6th Cir.
1985). Accordingly, Congress enacted 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1) to “insure[ ] that the district judge would
be the final arbiter” of a matter referred to a
magistrate. Flournoy v. Marshall, 842 F.2d 875, 878
(6th Cir. 1987).
Sixth Circuit has made clear that “[o]verly general
objections do not satisfy the objection requirement.”
Spencer v. Bouchard, 449 F.3d 721, 725 (6th Cir.
2006). Only specific objections are entitled to de
novo review; vague and conclusory objections amount to a
complete failure to object as they are not sufficient to
pinpoint those portions of the R&R that are legitimately
in contention. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637
(6th Cir.1986) (per curiam). “The objections must be
clear enough to enable the district court to discern those
issues that are dispositive and contentious.”
Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995).
"‘[O]bjections disput[ing] the correctness of the
magistrate's recommendation but fail[ing] to specify the
findings . . . believed [to be] in error’ are too
general.” Spencer, 449 F.3d at 725 (quoting
Miller, 50 F.3d at 380).
Standard of Review Applicable to Social Security
Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's final
administrative decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Judicial review is limited to determining whether the
Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial
evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal standards.
Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241
(6th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "more than a
scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance; it is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Id.
(internal quotation marks omitted). If the Commissioner's
decision is supported by substantial evidence, "it must
be affirmed even if the reviewing court would decide the
matter differently and even if substantial evidence also
supports the opposite conclusion." Cutlip v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286
(6th Cir. 1994) (internal citations omitted).
reviewing the Commissioner's factual findings for
substantial evidence, the Court is limited to an examination
of the record and must consider that record as a whole.
Wyatt v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 974
F.2d 680, 683 (6th Cir. 1992). There is no requirement,
however, that either the Commissioner or this Court discuss
every piece of evidence in the administrative record.
Kornecky v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 167 F.App'x
496, 508 (6th Cir. 2006). Further, this Court does "not
try the case de novo, resolve conflicts in evidence, or
decide questions of credibility." Bass v.
McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2007).