United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
Social Security appeal is before the court for consideration
of the plaintiff's objections [R. 21] to the Report and
Recommendation filed by United States Magistrate Judge
Christopher H. Steger [R. 20]. Magistrate Judge Steger found
that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) properly reviewed and
weighed the evidence to determine that plaintiff is capable
of performing a range of medium-exertion work with some
restrictions. Thus, Magistrate Judge Steger recommended that
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be denied and the
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment be granted.
party objects to the magistrate judge's R&R, the
court must conduct a de novo review of portions of
the R&R to which specific objections are made unless the
objections are frivolous, conclusive, or general.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b);
Smith v. Detroit Fed. Of Teachers, 829 F.2d 1370,
1373 (6th Cir. 1987). Although the court is
required to engage in a de novo review of specific
objections, if the objections merely restate the party's
arguments raised in the motion for summary judgment that were
previously addressed by the magistrate judge, the court may
deem the objections waived. VanDiver v. Martin, 304
F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D.Mich. 2004). A general objection, or
one that merely restates the arguments previously presented
is not sufficient to alert the court to alleged errors on the
part of the magistrate judge. An objection that does nothing
more than state a disagreement with a magistrate judge's
recommendation, or simply summarizes what has been presented
before, is not an objection as that term is used in this
context. Id. at 937. A party has the duty to
pinpoint those portions of the magistrate judge's report
that the district must specially consider. Mira v.
Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6thCir. 1986).
made her application for disability insurance benefits and/or
supplemental security income alleging disability based on
brain hemorrhage, two strokes, memory loss, panic attacks,
anxiety, and migraine headaches. The claim was denied by the
ALJ on August 29, 2014. The Appeals Council denied the
plaintiff's request for review, and plaintiff sought
judicial review of the Commissioner's decision. As
required by 28 U.S.C. § 36(b)(1) and Rule 72(b),
Fed.R.Civ.P., the Court has now undertaken a de novo
review of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to
which plaintiff objects. For the reasons that follow, the
plaintiff's objections will be overruled.
states the ALJ failed to credit her testimony regarding the
effects of her impairments on her ability to work. A
claimant's statement that she is experiencing disabling
pain or other subjective symptoms will not, taken alone,
establish that she is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1529(a); 416.929(a). The ALJ considered plaintiff's
statement of limitations due to the residual effects of two
strokes, memory loss, recurrent headaches, chronic back pain,
and obesity. The ALJ also considered alleged mental
impairments, including a mood disorder. The ALJ found
plaintiff's testimony not entirely credible because
despite plaintiff's complaints of left arm weakness and
numbness, diagnostic imaging studies of her upper extremities
were unremarkable. MRA/MRI scans of plaintiff's brain
were within normal limits in December 2011 and February 2013.
A December 2011 EEG was also normal. The ALJ also considered
that plaintiff's consultative physical examination with
Dr. Huffman was “essentially benign, with slightly
reduced range of motion in her lumbar spine, normal gait and
station, negative straight leg raise tests, full strength,
and no neurosensory deficits.” Dr. Huffman opined that
plaintiff could lift up to fifty pounds, sit for seven hours
a day, stand for seven hours a day, and walk for seven hours
respect to plaintiff's alleged mental limitations, state
agency psychological consultants found she had “a mood
disorder incident to her overall condition.” The ALJ
found this impairment produced a moderate limitation in her
concentration, persistence or pace and included mental
limitations in plaintiff's RFC. The ALJ also took note
that plaintiff reported a wide range of activities of daily
living, including cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and
shopping. Plaintiff has pointed to no specific evidence in
the record to contract these findings. The court will defer
to the credibility finding by the ALJ, who had an opportunity
to evaluate the demeanor and consistency of the
plaintiff's testimony. Siterlet v. Secr. of Health
& Human Servs., 823 F.2d 918, 920 (6th Cir. 1987).
next argues that the ALJ failed to account for limitations
related to her migraine headaches when determining her RFC.
The ALJ acknowledged plaintiff had a history of migraines
dating back to 2007. He noted that plaintiff complained of
migraine headaches to her neurologist Dr. Gibson in July
2007, with continued complaints in March and June 2008. In
November 2009, plaintiff reported no headaches since a
chiropractic adjustment. She later described headaches which
she described as constant in May 2010, May 2011, and April
2012. The ALJ noted that she reported no improvement in her
headaches in July 2013 and July 2014. The ALJ explained that
he assigned little weight to Dr. Gibson's statement that
plaintiff could not work a forty-hour workweek due to
headaches because the statement was not supported by the
medical evidence and was inconsistent with other evidence of
record. Dr. Gibson checked a box on a form indicating that
plaintiff could not sustain any type of job for a normal
workweek consisting of eight hours a day, forty hours a week.
However, Dr. Gibson provided no objective medical support for
his conclusory opinion. Because he failed to identify
objective medical findings to support his opinion regarding
plaintiff's impairments, the ALJ did not err in
discounting his opinion. See Price v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 342 Fed.Appx. 172, 176 (6thCir. 2009).
gave greater weight to the opinion of the consultative
examiner Dr. Huffman. The ALJ explained that Dr.
Huffman's neurological examination was normal and
plaintiff demonstrated no neurosensory deficits. Dr.
Huffman's opinion was corroborated by the opinions of the
state agency medical consultants who reviewed the medical
records. The medical consultants agreed with Dr.
Huffman's assessment that plaintiff was capable of medium
exertional level work with some restrictions.
careful review of the record and the parties' pleadings,
the court is in complete agreement with the magistrate
judge's recommendation that plaintiffs motion for summary
judgment be denied and the Commissioner's motion for
summary judgment be granted. Accordingly, the court
ACCEPTS IN WHOLE the Report and
Recommendation under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). It is ORDERED, for the
reasons stated in the Report and Recommendation, which the
court adopts and incorporates into its ruling, that the
plaintiffs motion for summary judgment [R. 14] is
DENIED; the Commissioner's motion for
summary judgment [R. 17] is ...