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Strait v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

September 25, 2019

SHAWNTAE STRAIT, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER ACCEPTING AND ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S AUGUST 15, 2019 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [20]

          Nancy G. Edmunds United States District Judge.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed this action seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security’s decision denying her applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. The Court referred the matter to the Magistrate Judge, who recommends denying Plaintiff’s motion to remand, granting Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, and affirming the Commissioner’s decision. (Dkt. 20.) Plaintiff makes two objections to the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation, and Defendant has responded to those objections. (Dkts. 21, 22.) Having conducted a de novo review of the parts of the Magistrate Judge’s report to which specific objections have been filed, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff’s objections and ACCEPTS and ADOPTS the report and recommendation. As a result, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion to remand (Dkt. 15); GRANTS Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 17); and AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. Standard of Review

         A. De Novo Review of Objections

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3), “[t]he district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge’s disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         B. Substantial Evidence Standard

         “This 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) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)). 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.’” Rogers v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Cutlip v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)).

         If the Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial evidence, it must be affirmed, even if the reviewing court would decide the matter differently, see Kinsella v. Schweiker, 708 F.2d 1058, 1059 (6th Cir. 1983), and even if substantial evidence also supports another conclusion, Her v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 203 F.3d 388, 389-90 (6th Cir. 1999). “The substantial evidence standard presupposes that there is a ‘zone of choice’ within which the [Commissioner] may proceed without interference from the courts.” Felisky v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027, 1035 (6th Cir. 1994) (quoting Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986)).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff makes two objections to the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation. First, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge erred when he found that the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) gave proper consideration to the opinion of Plaintiff’s mental health professional, Ms. Samantha Schalk. Second, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge did not address her argument that the ALJ’s residual functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment was not supported by substantial evidence.

         A. Plaintiff’s First Objection

         Plaintiff argues that because the medical evidence supports the findings of Ms. Schalk, not only did the ALJ err when he did not make a finding of disability at step three of the analysis but also the RFC is defective because it did not encompass Ms. Schalk’s findings.

         As Defendant notes, Plaintiff is primarily rehashing an argument she ...


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