United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
K. Lee Magistrate Judge
R. McDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court are cross-motions for summary judgment (Docs. 22,
31). The Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Susan
K. Lee, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Rule 72 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for a report and
recommendation. On May 10, 2019, Magistrate Judge Lee entered
a report and recommendation, recommending that the Court: (1)
deny Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; (2) grant
the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment; and (3)
affirm the Commissioner's finding that Plaintiff is not
disabled under the Social Security Act. (See
generally Doc. 33.) Plaintiff timely filed objections to
Magistrate Judge Lee's report and recommendation (Doc.
For the reasons stated below, the Court will: (1)
ACCEPT and ADOPT the
magistrate judge's report and recommendation (Doc. 33);
(2) DENY Plaintiff's motion for summary
judgment (Doc. 22); (3) GRANT the
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 32); and
(4) AFFIRM the Commissioner's finding
that Plaintiff is not disabled under the Social Security Act.
report and recommendation, Magistrate Judge Lee detailed the
procedural and factual background underlying this matter. The
parties have not objected to Magistrate Judge Lee's
recitation of the facts, and the Court finds that the facts
set forth in the report and recommendation are accurate.
Accordingly, for the purposes of reviewing Plaintiff's
objections to Magistrate Judge Lee's report and
recommendation, the Court ADOPTS BY
REFERENCE the facts set forth in the report and
recommendation (Doc. 33).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court must conduct a de novo review of those
portions of the report and recommendation to which objections
are made and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in
part, the magistrate judge's findings or recommendations.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In doing so, the Court's
standard of review is essentially the same as the magistrate
judge's-review is limited to determining whether the
administrative law judge's (“ALJ”) findings
are supported by substantial evidence and whether proper
legal standards were applied. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Brainard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989) (per curiam).
“Substantial evidence” is “more than a mere
scintilla” and means “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971). If supported by substantial evidence, the
Court must affirm the ALJ's findings, even if substantial
evidence also supports the opposite conclusion. Jones v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 475 (6th Cir.
the Court is required to engage in a de novo review
of specific objections, if the objections merely restate the
arguments asserted in Plaintiff's earlier motion, which
were addressed by the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, the Court may deem those objections waived.
See 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's
suggested resolution, or simply summarizes what has been
presented before, is not an ‘objection' as that
term is used in this context.” Id. The Sixth
Circuit has also explained that:
A general objection to the entirety of the magistrate's
report has the same effects as would a failure to object. The
district court's attention is not focused on any specific
issues for review, thereby making the initial reference to
the magistrate useless. The functions of the district court
are effectively duplicated as both the magistrate and the
district court perform identical tasks. This duplication of
time and effort wastes judicial resources rather than saving
them, and runs contrary to the purposes of the Magistrates
Howard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).
raises two objections to Magistrate Judge Lee's report
and recommendation. First, Plaintiff argues that the
magistrate judge erred in finding that the ALJ's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) determination is
supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ did not
properly consider Plaintiff's mental limitations. (Doc.
34, at 1-4.) Second, Plaintiff argues that the magistrate
judge erred in finding that the ALJ properly considered Dr.
Goewey's findings of Plaintiff's physical limitations
in his RFC determination. (Id. at 4-6.)
Whether the ALJ Properly Considered Plaintiff's Mental
Limitations in Determining Her Residual Functional
Social Security Administration determines eligibility for
disability benefits by following a five-step
process. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). As
relevant here, at Step Three of the sequential evaluation
process, the ALJ is tasked with considering the medical
severity of the claimant's impairments. If an impairment
meets or equals a listing, the ALJ will find that the
claimant is disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(iii). The ALJ must also determine a
claimant's RFC, or her ability to do physical and mental
work activities on a sustained basis despite limitations from
his impairments, before considering Step Four. See
§ 404.1520(e). When making an RFC assessment, “the
ALJ must consider limitations and restrictions imposed by all
of [the] individual's impairments, ...