United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
RYAN D. HODGSON, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
ORDER OVERRULING OBJECTIONS , ADOPTING REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION , DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT , AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("SSA") denied Ryan D. Hodgson's
("Hodgson") application for supplemental security
income and disability insurance benefits in a decision issued
by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). ECF 7-2,
PgID 43–51. After the SSA Appeals Council declined to
review the ruling, Hodgson appealed. ECF 1. The Court
referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Anthony P. Patti and
the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. ECF 2,
11, 12. The magistrate judge issued a Report and
Recommendation ("Report") advising the Court to
deny Hodgson's motion and grant the Commissioner's
motion. ECF 13. Hodgson timely objected to the Report. ECF
14. After examining the record and considering Hodgson's
objections de novo, the Court now concludes that his
arguments lack merit. The Court will therefore overrule
Hodgson's objections, adopt the Report's findings,
deny Hodgson's motion for summary judgment, and grant the
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment.
Report properly details the events giving rise to
Hodgson's action against the Commissioner. ECF 13, PgID
559–61, 563. The Court will adopt that portion of the
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). When conducting a de novo review,
"[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the
recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return
the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions."
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 consists of "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).
raises two objections. The Court will address each in turn.
First, Hodgson objects to the magistrate judge's finding
"that the ALJ's decision was supported by
substantial evidence." ECF 14, PgID 583. Hodgson
provides his own assessment of why he cannot work.
Id. at 583–85. But Hodgson does not contest
the magistrate judge's findings. Instead, he restates the
same arguments he made to the ALJ, id., and in his
motion for summary judgment, ECF 11, PgID 523–25. He
contends that "SSA regulations were not followed, "
but does not cite any specific regulations. ECF 14, PgID 583.
Non-specific objections to a magistrate judge's report
and recommendation are improper and do not require de novo
review. See Jidas v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No.
17-cv-14198, 2019 WL 1306172, at *1–2 (E.D. Mich. Mar.
22, 2019). The Court therefore need not review Hodgson's
first objection de novo.
the magistrate judge was correct in determining the ALJ's
finding that Hodgson was not disabled was supported by
substantial evidence. An ALJ must defer to a treating
physician's medical opinion or "provide good reason
for refusing to defer to the opinion." Turner v
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 381 F.App'x 488, 492 (6th Cir.
2010) (citations omitted). But "a treating
physician's opinion is only entitled to such special
attention and deference when it is a medical opinion."
Id. 492–93 (citations omitted) (emphasis in
original). When, instead, a treating physician "submits
an opinion on an issue reserved to the Commissioner-such as
whether the claimant is 'disabled' or 'unable to
work'-the opinion is not entitled to any particular
weight." Id. at 493 (citations omitted).
only evidence in the record to support a finding here that
Hodgson was disabled is a report from his treating physician,
Dr. Leon Rubenfaer, M.D. ECF 7-7, PgID 430–31. Dr.
Rubenfaer found that Hodgson lacks the ability "to
understand, remember, and carry out simple
instructions;" to "make judgments that are
commensurate with the functions of unskilled work;" to
"respond appropriately to supervision;" and to
"deal with changes in a routine work setting."
Id. Hodgson's testimony, however, directly
contradicted Dr. Rubenfaer's conclusions. Hodgson
testified that he lives with his two children, gets them up
and ready for school, and then drives them to school every
morning. ECF 7-2, PgID 61–62, 71. He also testified
that he does not require anyone to care for him, dress, or
feed him, that he cooks dinner for his children, plays games
with them, and goes to the gym. Id. at 72–74.
With his own testimony, Hodgson contradicted Dr.
Rubenfaer's assessment, and provided the ALJ good reason
to discredit Dr. Rubenfaer's conclusions.
Rubenfaer also opined that Hodgson was "totally [and]
permanently disabled." ECF 7-7, PgID 431. Dr.
Rubenfaer's opinion is not a medical opinion, and
therefore "is not entitled to any particular
weight." Turner, F.App'x at 493. Further, Dr. Barbra
Jones Smith, Ph.D., and Dr. David A. Harley, Ph.D., disagreed
with Dr. Rubenfaer, ...