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Al Jalham v. Berryhill

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

October 29, 2019

AHMED SAEED NASER AL JALHAM, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Stephanie Dawkins Davis United States Magistrate Judge.

         OPINION AND ORDER: (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS (ECF NO. 17); (2) ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE STEPHANIE DAWKINS DAVIS (ECF NO. 16); (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 12); (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 14); and (5) AFFIRMING THE FINDINGS OF THE COMMISSIONER

          Paul D. Borman United States District Judge.

         On August 26, 2019, Magistrate Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis issued a Report and Recommendation addressing the cross-motions for summary judgment in this action. (ECF No. 16, Report and Recommendation.) In the Report and Recommendation, Magistrate Judge Davis recommended that the Court deny Plaintiff's January 2, 2019 Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12), grant Defendant's March 4, 2019 Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14), and affirm the findings of the Commissioner.

         Now before the Court are Plaintiff's Objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 17, Plaintiffs Objections.) Defendant filed a timely Response. (ECF No. 18, Defendant's Response.) Having conducted a de novo review of the parts of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which objections have been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court will reject Plaintiffs Objections, adopt the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, and affirm the findings of the Commissioner.

         I. Background

         The Court has reviewed the background in light of the record and finds that the Magistrate Judge's summary of the background of this case in the August 26, 2019 Report and Recommendation is accurate. (ECF No. 16, Report and Recommendation 3-4.) In addition, plaintiff has not specifically objected to the background as described in the Report and Recommendation. Therefore, the Court adopts the background section in full. (Id.)

         II. Standard of review

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the Court conducts a de novo review of the portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which a party has filed “specific written objections” in a timely manner. Lyons v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 351 F.Supp.2d 659, 661 (E.D. Mich. 2004). A district court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Id. Only those objections that are specific are entitled to a de novo review under the statute. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the magistrate's report that the district court must specially consider.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). A general objection, or one that merely restates arguments previously presented, does not sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. An “objection” that does nothing more than disagree with a magistrate judge's determination “without explaining the source of the error” is not a valid objection. Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).

         The Court's review of the findings of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is limited to determining whether those findings are supported by substantial evidence and made pursuant to proper legal standards. See Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 405(h)); see also Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Kyle v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 609 F.3d 847, 854 (6th Cir. 2010). It is “more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance.” McGlothin v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 299 Fed.Appx. 516, 522 (6th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks omitted). “If the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence, [the court] must defer to that decision, ‘even if there is substantial evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite conclusion.' ” Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005)).

         As to whether proper legal criteria were followed, a decision of the Social Security Administration (SSA) supported by substantial evidence will not be upheld “where the SSA fails to follow its own regulations and where that error prejudices a claimant on the merits or deprives the claimant of a substantial right.” Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 546-47 (6th Cir. 2004)).

         This Court does not “try the case de novo, nor resolve conflicts in the evidence, nor decide questions of credibility.” Cutlip, 25 F.3d at 286. “It is of course for the ALJ, and not the reviewing court, to evaluate the credibility of witnesses, including that of the claimant.” Rogers, 486 F.3d at 247; see also Cruse v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 502 F.3d 532, 542 (6th Cir. 2007) (noting that the “ALJ's credibility determinations about the claimant are to be given great weight, ‘particularly since the ALJ is charged with observing the claimant's demeanor and credibility' ”) (quoting Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir. 1997)).

         III. Analysis

         Plaintiff has advanced two objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report: (1) the Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that there was substantial evidence supporting the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff does not require the use of a cane because the Magistrate Judge applied the wrong legal standards; and (2) the Magistrate Judge erred in finding substantial evidence supporting the ALJ's conclusion that Plaintiff has a limited ability to communicate in English. (ECF No. 17, Plaintiffs Objections.) The Court finds that Magistrate Davis applied the correct legal standards when evaluating the ALJ's finding that Plaintiff does not ...


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