Curler v. Social Security, Commissioner of
OPINION and ORDER Overruling Plaintiff's 24 Objection, Adopting 22 Report and Recommendation, Denying Plaintiff's 16 Motion for Summary Judgment, and Granting Defendant's 20 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III. (DPar)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
Case No. 2:15-cv-12982
HONORABLE STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
OPINION AND ORDER
OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION ,
ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ,
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARYJUDGMENT ,
AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
Plaintiff Sheri Curler seeks review of a final decision by the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration ("SSA"). Curler filed two applications for Supplemental
Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits, both of which were denied. After each
denial, Curler sought de novo review from an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). The ALJs
determined that Curler was not disabled, and the SSA Appeals Council declined to review
the rulings. See Appeals Council Denials, AR1 6–10, ECF No. 13-2; AR 119–124, ECF No.
13-3. After Curler filed the present action, the Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge
Anthony Patti, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. See Mot. Summ.
J., ECF Nos. 16, 20. The magistrate judge issued a Report and Recommendation
("Report") suggesting that the Court deny Curler's motion and grant the Commissioner's
motion. Report, ECF No. 22. Curler filed a timely objection to the Report. Obj., ECF No. 24.
After examining the record and considering Curler's objection de novo, the Court concludes
that her arguments do not have merit. Accordingly, the Court will adopt the Report's
findings, deny Curler's motion for summary judgment, grant the Commissioner's motion for
summary judgment, and dismiss the complaint.
The Report properly details the events giving rise to Curler's action against the
Commissioner. Report 2–5, ECF No. 22. The Court will adopt that portion of the Report.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
Civil Rule 72(b) governs the review of a magistrate judge's report. A district court's
standard of review depends upon whether a party files objections. The Court need not
undertake any review of portions of a Report to which no party has objected. Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985). De novo review is required, however, if the parties "serve
and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations." Fed.
R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2) and (3). In conducting a de novo review, "[t]he district judge may accept,
reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return the
matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3).
When reviewing a case under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court "must affirm the
Commissioner's conclusions absent a determination that the Commissioner has failed to
apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial
evidence in the record." Longworth v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th
Cir. 2005) (quotations omitted). Substantial evidence consists of "more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance" such that a "reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th
Cir. 2007) (quotations omitted). An ALJ may consider the entire body of evidence without
directly addressing each piece in his decision. Kornecky v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 167 F.
App'x 496, 508 (6th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted). "Nor must an ALJ make explicit credibility
findings as to each bit of conflicting testimony, so long as his factual findings as a whole
show that he implicitly resolved such conflicts." Id. (quotations omitted).
Curler raises only one objection to the Report, but in two parts. First, she argues that
the magistrate judge failed to show how he found that the ALJ properly assigned weight to
Dr. Ingram's opinion, as required by 20 C.F.R. 404.1527(c) and SSR 96-2p. Second, she
argues that the Report does not state how the ALJ's failure to follow those two provisions
could be construed as harmless error.
The Social Security Administration assigns weight to medical opinions in accordance
with 20 C.F.R. 404.1527(c) and SSR 96-2p. "Controlling weight may not be given to a
treating source's medical opinion unless the opinion is well-supported by medically
acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques." SSR 96-2P,1996 WL 374188
(July 2, 1996). And even if "a treating source's medical opinion is well-supported, controlling
weight may not be given to the opinion unless it also is 'not inconsistent' with the other
substantial evidence in the case record." Id. When a medical opinion is not given controlling
weight, the ALJ considers the following factors in deciding the weight to give to the opinion:
(1) examining relationship; (2) treatment relationship, including its length, nature, extent,
and the frequency of examinations; (3) supportability; (4) consistency; (5) specialization;
and (6) other factors. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c); see also Miller v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 811
F.3d 825, 836–37 (6th Cir. 2016).
The ALJ explained why Dr. Ingram's opinion was given little weight. Dr. Ingram had
estimated that Curler "had extreme limitations in concentration, persistence, or pace and
marked limitations in social functioning[.]" AR 30, ECF No. 13-2. But Curler's conditions had
been "described as stable and responsive to treatment," and the ALJ had received
testimony from Curler to that effect. Id. at 25–26. Consequently, the ALJ afforded little
weight to Ingram's opinion, and specifically mentioned that it was unsupported by and
inconsistent with the medical evidence — just as required by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c). Id.
at 30. Curler has therefore failed to show that the ALJ failed to comply with the Social
Security Administration's requirements for weighting medical opinions. Since the Court
finds no error, there is no need to consider potential harmlessness.
The Court has carefully reviewed the parties' motions, the Report, and Curler's
objection. The Court finds Curler's objection unconvincing, and agrees with the Report's
recommendation to grant the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment and deny
Curler's motion for summary judgment.
WHEREFORE, it is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff's Objection to the Report and
Recommendation  is OVERRULED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation  is ADOPTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment  is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment  is
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
s/Stephen J. Murphy, III
STEPHEN J. MURPHY, III
United States District Judge
Dated: February 28, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon the parties and/or
counsel of record on February 28, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/David P. Parker
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?