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Dotson v. Colvin

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

September 12, 2017

BRIANNA A. DOTSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Brown Judge.

          MEMORANDUM

          Aleta A. Trauger United States District Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Brianna Dotson brought this action in the district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 1383(c) seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Social Security Administration (SSA) through its Commissioner (the Commissioner), denying her application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381 et seq.

         Presently before the court is plaintiff's objection (Doc. 25) to the Magistrate Judge's May 12, 2017 Report and Recommendation (R&R) (Doc. 22) that recommended plaintiff's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Doc. 13) be denied and the Commissioner's denial of benefits affirmed. The Commissioner replied on May 17, 2017. (Doc. 26)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a magistrate judge enters a R&R regarding a dispositive matter, the district court must review de novo any portion, proposed findings, or recommendations in the R&R to which a proper objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Rule 72(b)(3), Fed. R. Civ. P.. In conducting its review, the district court may accept, reject, modify the recommended disposition in whole or in part, receive further evidence, or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Rule 72(b)(3), Fed. R. Civ. P..

         The district court's review of the Commissioner's final decision in a Social Security case is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record, and whether the decision was made pursuant to proper legal standards. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1381(c); Gayheart v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 710 F.3d 365, 374 (6th Cir. 2014). Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance but more than a scintilla; it refers to relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); see Gentry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 741 F.3d 708, 722 (6th Cir. 2003). The Commissioner's decision must stand if substantial evidence supports the conclusion reached, even if the evidence supports a different conclusion. Gayheart, 710 F.3d at 374.

         III. PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND EVIDENCE

         The procedural history set forth in the R&R (Doc. 22, pp. 1-3) has been reviewed, deemed factually correct, and incorporated herein by reference. The evidence relevant to plaintiff's single claim of error is addressed in the analysis below.

         IV. PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION TO THE R&R

         Plaintiff's sole objection to the R&R is that the Magistrate Judge erred in not considering Dr. Lynna Hollis, M.D., as a treating source, thereby failing to accord her opinion controlling weight. (Doc. 25, pp. 1-3) Plaintiff sets forth a three-part argument in support of her objection: 1) two Centerstone Medical Progress Notes (progress notes), the first dated May 5, 2014 and the second July 7, 2014 (Doc. 25, p. 2), establish that Dr. Hollis was a treating source; 2) the Magistrate Judge erred in relying on Matelske v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2013 WL 4520202 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 26, 2013) and Bieri v. Astrue, 2008 WL 4185967 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 2, 2008) which stand for the proposition that “a physician is not a treating source in the absence of any evidence that the physician ever saw or evaluated a claimant” (Doc. 25, p. 2); 3) “substantial evidence of record supports the opinion of . . . Dr. Hollis resulting in disabling limitations per SSA guidelines . . . .” (Doc. 25, pp. 2-3)

         V. ANALYSIS

         A. Whether Dr. Hollis Was a Treating Source Based on The May 5, 2014 ...


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