Pasden v. Social Security
OPINION AND ORDER Overruling Plaintiff's Objections; 22 Adopting Report and Recommendation; Denying 17 Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Christina M. Pasden, and Granting 19 Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Social Security. Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
CHRISTINA M. PASDEN,
Case No. 15-12128
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTION;
(2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION;
(3) GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; AND (4)
DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Plaintiff Christina M. Pasden appeals from Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security’s final decision denying her benefits under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Magistrate
Judge Anthony P. Patti issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) advising the
court to grant Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and to deny Plaintiff’s motion
for the same. (Dkt. # 22.) Plaintiff timely filed an objection to the R&R (“Objection”). (Dkt.
# 23.) Defendant filed a Reply to Plaintiff’s Objection (“Reply”). (Dkt. #24.) After
reviewing the R&R and the briefs of both Parties, the court concludes that a hearing is
unnecessary. See E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2). For the reasons stated below and in the wellreasoned R&R, the court will overrule Plaintiff’s objection and adopt the R&R.
The filing of timely objections to an R&R requires the court to “make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified findings or recommendations
to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also United States v. Raddatz,
447 U.S. 667 (1980); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947 (6th Cir. 1981). This de
novo review requires the court to re-examine all of the relevant evidence previously
reviewed by the magistrate judge in order to determine whether the recommendation
should be accepted, rejected, or modified in whole or in part. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
“The filing of objections provides the district court with the opportunity to consider
the specific contentions of the parties and to correct any errors immediately,” Walters,
638 F.2d at 950, enabling the court “to focus attention on those issues—factual and
legal—that are at the heart of the parties’ dispute,” Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 147
(1985). As a result, “‘[o]nly those specific objections to the magistrate’s report made to
the district court will be preserved for appellate review; making some objections but
failing to raise others will not preserve all the objections a party may have.’”
McClanahan v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 837 (6th Cir. 2006) (quoting Smith
v. Detroit Fed’n of Teachers Local 231, 829 F.2d 1370, 1373 (6th Cir. 1987)).
Magistrate Judge Patti outlined two bases upon which to grant summary
judgment against Plaintiff. First, the R&R notes that the ALJ’s failure to name certain
doctors but instead reference their treatment reports as exhibits did not indicate a failure
to consider evidence, nor were these records considered “medical opinions” which an
ALJ is required to consider pursuant to the treating physician rule, 20 C.F.R. 404.1527.
Second, Magistrate Judge Patti concluded that the ALJ did not err in failing to mention
the psychiatric consultative examination by Dr. Cho resulting in a diagnosis of
depression, because the ALJ is not required to address every piece of evidence and the
diagnosis did not address Plaintiff’s ability to work. In essence, the R&R reflects a
determination that the ALJ’s conclusions satisfied the applicable “substantial evidence”
standard despite its cursory treatment of some evidence favorable to Plaintiff.
Plaintiff offers three objections to the R&R: 1) the ALJ was indeed required to
supply “good reasons” for the weight accorded to each treating physician’s opinions; 2)
the treatment records at issue did constitute “medical opinions” that the ALJ must
consider despite the fact that they did not discuss Plaintiffs’ vocational limitations; and
3) the ALJ was bound to consider and specifically discuss Dr. Cho’s psychiatric
evaluation. In response to Plaintiff’s objections, Defendant’s Reply essentially reiterates
the reasoning of the R&R in further detail.
Plaintiff is incorrect when she states that the R&R contains a “completely
inaccurate summary of controlling principles” as to whether the ALJ was required to
specifically describe every record. The Sixth Circuit has held that, although it “might be
ideal for an ALJ to articulate his reasons for crediting or discrediting each medical
opinion,” an ALJ need not “articulate his reasons for crediting or discrediting each
medical opinion” so long as the factual findings as a whole demonstrate that he
considered them. Kornecky v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 167 F. App’x 496, 509-08 (6th Cir.
2006). Medical opinions by treating physicians are afforded controlling weight under the
“treating physician rule” and 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c), but the R&R rightly concluded that
the records at issue do not qualify as such, since they do not “opine on what Plaintiff
can do” or “address what restrictions might be due to her alleged symptoms.” See
Winter v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No 12-11962, 2013 WL 4604782, at *3 (E.D. Mich. Aug.
29, 2013) (records at issue were not medical opinions where they “do not opine at all on
what Plaintiff can do despite her symptoms or on what her physical and mental
restrictions might be due to her alleged symptoms”).
Plaintiff is correct when she asserts that this “does not permit the ALJ to simply
disregard these findings” but that is not what the R&R found. Instead, it accurately
concluded that the ALJ’s opinion reflected consideration of the entire record and the fact
that it was consistent with findings contained within those records suggested that any
failure to consider them constituted at most harmless error. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s first
two objections are overruled. These considerations apply with equal force to Plaintiff’s
third objection, which is therefore also overruled for the same reasons. The court
concludes that the ALJ was not required to explicitly discuss every piece of evidence in
the record. This is especially true since the ALJ’s analysis reflected a fulsome
consideration of the evidence according to its weight and the records omitted from
discussion in the opinion did not qualify as medical records of a treating physician.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s objection (Dkt. # 23) is
OVERRULED and the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation (Dkt. # 22) is
ADOPTED IN FULL AND INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. #
19) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 17)
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: September 22, 2016
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record on
this date, September 22, 2016, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
S:\Cleland\JUDGE'S DESK\C2 ORDERS\15-12128.PASDEN.Adopt.Soc.Sec.R&R.bss.wpd
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