Lamonte v. Social Security, Commissioner of
ORDER denying 14 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 15 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 16 Motion for Order; adopting 21 Report and Recommendation. Signed by District Judge Arthur J. Tarnow. (MLan)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JAMES M. LAMONTE,
Case No. 15-14247
SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
ARTHUR J. TARNOW
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MONA K. MAJZOUB
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ; OVERRULING
PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTION ; DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT ; GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
; AND GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR ORDER PERMITTING THE
SUPPLEMENTING OF THE TRANSCRIPT 
Plaintiff James Lamonte seeks judicial review of the decision of an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying his application for disability benefits.
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment [Dkt. 14] on May 7, 2016.
Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment  on June 6, 2016. Plaintiff
filed a Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript  on
June 8, 2016.
On February 21, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation  recommending that the Court grant Plaintiff’s Motion for
Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript, deny Plaintiff’s Motion for
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Summary Judgment, and grant Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
Timely objections were filed in this matter. .
For the reasons stated below, the Court ADOPTS the Report and
Recommendation . Plaintiff’s Objection to the Report and Recommendation
 is OVERRULED. Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment  is
DENIED. Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment  is GRANTED.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript  is
The R&R summarized the record as follows:
Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits with a protective filing date of December 11, 2012,
alleging that he had been disabled since June 30, 2011. (TR 14; 94-97.) The
Social Security Administration denied Plaintiff’s claims on March 6, 2013,
and Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing. (TR 61-64, 67-68.) On April 18,
2014, Plaintiff appeared with a representative and testified at the hearing
before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Timothy Christensen. (TR 31-49.)
In a June 25, 2014 decision, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not entitled to
benefits because he was capable of performing a significant number of jobs
in the national economy. (TR 23-24.) The Appeals Council declined to
review the ALJ’s decision (TR 1-5), and Plaintiff commenced this action for
judicial review. The parties then filed cross motions for summary judgment,
which are currently before the Court. (Docket nos. 14, 15.) Plaintiff
responded to Defendant’s Motion. (Docket no. 19.) Plaintiff also filed a
Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript (docket no.
16), to which Defendant responded (docket no. 18), and Plaintiff filed a
Reply (docket no. 20.)
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Hearing Testimony and Medical Evidence
Plaintiff (docket no. 14 at 3-13) and Defendant (docket no. 15 at 4-12)
each set out a detailed, factual recitation with regard to Plaintiff’s medical
record and the hearing testimony. The ALJ also discusses Plaintiff’s medical
record and hearing testimony throughout his decision. (TR 16-23.) Having
conducted an independent review of Plaintiff’s medical record and the
hearing transcript, the undersigned finds that there are no material
inconsistencies among these recitations of the record. Therefore, the
undersigned incorporates the factual recitations by reference. Additionally,
the undersigned will include comments and citations to the record as
necessary throughout this Report and Recommendation.
There is a preliminary issue relating to the medical record evidence in
this case. In compiling the transcript for the court’s review, the Appeals
Council excluded a single page from a questionnaire completed by
Plaintiff’s long-time treating physician, Dr. Mumtaz George, M.D., for the
stated reason that “it did not pertain to the claimant.” (TR 255.) In his
Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing of the Transcript (docket no.
16), Plaintiff submits the excluded page and presents an affidavit from
Plaintiff’s attorney’s legal secretary, Ms. Maria Carmon, explaining that she
erroneously neglected to change the client’s name on that particular page
before submitting the questionnaire to Dr. George to complete, but that Dr.
George’s answers on that page in fact do relate to Plaintiff. (Docket no. 161.) Plaintiff seeks to include the page in the record for the court’s
consideration. Defendant objects, arguing that there is no authority to
support the supplementation of the record by the court after it has been
certified by the Commissioner. (Docket no. 18.) Defendant also disputes that
the page actually relates to Plaintiff.
It is apparent from the document that the page pertains to Plaintiff. It
was signed by Dr. George the same day as the other pages in the
questionnaire, and these other pages do identify Plaintiff as the patient. (See
Docket no. 16-4 at 4-8). Moreover, the undersigned has no reason to doubt
the veracity of Ms. Carmon’s affidavit. And, as both parties note, when a
claimant commences an action for judicial review, the Commissioner is
required to “file a certified copy of the transcript of the record including the
evidence upon which the findings and decision complained of are based.” 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). In this case, the ALJ expressly relied on the excluded page
when making his determination, as is evidenced by the fact that he cites to it
on page 8 of 12 of his decision. (See TR 21 (citing pages 43 and 45 of
Exhibit 6F, which is the questionnaire at issue).) The undersigned therefore
recommends that Plaintiff’s Motion for Order Permitting the Supplementing
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of the Transcript (docket no. 16) be granted, and that the court also consider
the page to the extent necessary to review this Report and Recommendation.
III. Administrative Law Judge’s Determination
Turning to the substantive issues, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the
insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September
30, 2015; that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
the alleged onset date of June 30, 2011; and that Plaintiff suffered from the
following severe impairments: depression, obsessive compulsive disorder
(OCD), and anxiety disorder. (TR 16.) Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff’s
impairments, either individually or when combined, did not meet or
medically equal the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. (TR 16-19.) The ALJ then found that Plaintiff’s
allegations regarding the extent of his symptoms were not “entirely credible”
and that Plaintiff had the following Residual Functional Capacity (RFC):
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full
range of work at all exertional levels but with the following
nonexertional limitations: . . . would require simple, routine tasks with
only occasional changes in the work setting and only brief and
superficial contact with others. (TR 19.)
The ALJ questioned a qualified Vocational Expert (VE) regarding
whether there would be any jobs available for a person with Plaintiff’s RFC.
(TR 49-50.) The VE testified that there would be, and gave examples of
simple janitorial work, housekeeping/office cleaning, and benchwork
including sorting, assembly and product finishing. (TR 46.) Subsequently, in
reliance on the testimony of the Vocational Expert (VE), the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was capable of performing a significant number of
jobs in the national economy. (TR 23-24.) Therefore, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act at any time from
June 30, 2011, through the date of the decision. (TR 24.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Court reviews objections to a Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendation on a dispositive motion de novo. See 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1)(c).
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Judicial review of a decision by a Social Security ALJ is limited to
determining whether the factual findings are supported by substantial evidence and
whether the ALJ employed the proper legal standards. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971). The ALJ’s factual findings “are conclusive if supported by
substantial evidence.” Maziarz v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 837 F.2d 240,
243 (6th Cir. 1987). “Substantial evidence is defined as more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as 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). The substantial evidence standard “does
not permit a selective reading of the record,” as the reviewing court’s assessment
of the evidence supporting the ALJ’s findings “must take into account whatever in
the record fairly detracts from its weight.” McLean v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 360 F.
Supp. 2d 864, 869 (E.D. Mich. 2005) (quoting Garner v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383,
388 (6th Cir. 1984)). However, so long as the ALJ’s conclusion is supported by
substantial evidence, a court must “defer to that finding even if there is substantial
evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite conclusion.”
Longworth v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005); see also
Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986).
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Plaintiff sets forth two reasons1 as to why the Court should decline to adopt
the Report & Recommendation: first, the ALJ’s decision to accord little weight to
the opinion of Dr. Mumtaz George, M.D., Plaintiff’s long-time treating physician,
was not supported by substantial evidence; and second, the ALJ’s credibility
finding was not supported by substantial evidence. The Court will discuss both
The ALJ Properly Disregarded Dr. George’s Opinion.
Plaintiff vehemently disputes the ALJ’s rejection of the opinion of Dr.
George, his long-time treating physician who specializes in internal medicine.
Plaintiff argues that in the assessment of Plaintiff’s residual functioning capacity
(“RFC”)2, the ALJ incorrectly relied on the fact that Dr. George is not a mental
health professional. Plaintiff only takes issue with the rejection of Dr. George’s
opinion regarding his anxiety; he does not challenge the ALJ’s rejection of Dr.
George’s opinion as to his physical limitations.
In his Motion for Summary Judgment, Plaintiff argued that Defendant did not meet its
burden of establishing that there is other work in the national economy that Plaintiff can
perform. Plaintiff did not address this argument in his Objections, and therefore, the
Court has no “duty to independently review” that issue. Murphy v. Lockhart, 826 F.
Supp. 2d 1016, 1027 (E.D. Mich. 2011).
The RFC is an “assessment of [the claimant’s] remaining capacity for work despite
[her] limitations.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(1).
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Generally, the ALJ must accord great weight to the findings of the
claimant’s treating doctor. See Wilson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544
(6th Cir. 2004). This is not the case if a treating source’s opinions “are unsupported
by the medical data in the record, or are inconsistent with other substantial
evidence in the record.” Pitts v. Astrue, 2011 WL 2553340, at *8 (N.D. Ohio May
19, 2011) (citing Miller v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 1991 WL 229979, at
*2 (6th Cir. Nov. 7, 1991)). If the treating source’s opinion is not accorded
controlling weight, the ALJ “must apply certain factors – namely, the length of the
treatment relationship and the frequency of examination, the nature and extent of
the treatment relationship, supportability of the opinion, consistency of the opinion
with the record as a whole, and the specialization of the treating source – in
determining what weight to give the opinion.” Wilson, 378 F.3d at 544 (citing 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2)3). The ALJ must also “give good reasons . . . for the
weight [given to the claimant’s] treating sources opinions.” 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)(2). The ALJ is required to do this ‘“to let claimants understand the
disposition of their cases,’ particularly in situations where a claimant knows that
his physician has deemed him disabled and therefore ‘might be especially
bewildered when told by an administrative bureaucracy that she is not, unless some
reason for the agency’s decision is supplied.’” Wilson, 378 F.3d at 544 (quoting
The regulation is now listed as 20 C.F.R. 404.1527(c)(2).
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Snell v. Apfel, 177 F.3d 128, 134 (2d Cir. 1999)). Ultimately, however, the ALJ
retains the power to decide whether the claimant is disabled. Walker v. Sec’y of
Health & Human Servs., 980 F.2d 1066, 1070 (6th Cir. 1992).
According to Plaintiff, ALJ Christensen gave no weight to the opinion of Dr.
George, Plaintiff’s treating physician, because Dr. George is not a mental health
professional. Although an ALJ “may consider a treating source’s area of expertise
in order to determine how much weight to accord to the doctor’s opinion, it is not
necessarily true that opinions offered regarding matters beyond the physician’s
specialty should be automatically rejected on such grounds.” Marsh v. Astrue,
2011 WL 4809271, at *5 (N.D. Ohio, Oct. 11, 2011). The ALJ must provide clear
and specific reasons as to why he discounted the treating doctor’s opinion. Id. (the
Commissioner’s decision was reversed because, aside from a few vague,
conclusory statements, “the ALJ neglected to offer any other insight explaining the
reasons why he assigned little weight to [the treating physician’s] findings.”). The
ALJ’s reasons must do “more than provide a superficial basis for discrediting [the
treating doctor’s] findings,” and should be “specific enough to apprise [Plaintiff
and the Court] of why [the treating doctor’s] opinions were being rejected.” Id.
The Court finds that the ALJ properly evaluated Dr. George’s opinion. The
ALJ’s discussion of Dr. George’s opinion is reproduced below:
The claimant’s attorney submits that Dr. George and Dr. Arends conclude
that the claimant’s impairments meet listing 12.06 because his anxiety
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results in motor tension, apprehension expectation and vigilance and
scanning with irrational fear of his medical condition and panic attacks twice
per week resulting in marked limitation in social functioning, concentration
persistence and pace, repeated episodes of decompensation and deterioration
and inability to live independently outside his home. The claimant’s attorney
states that Dr. George’s office visits support his opinion. I find that the
claimant has mild restrictions of activities of daily living and moderate
limitations in social functioning and concentration, persistence and pace and
no repeated episodes of decompensation and deterioration . . . . Further, the
claimant has not alleged that he is unable to live independently outside his
home. In fact, the consultative examiner noted that he attended the
examination alone and unaccompanied.
(TR 16 (internal citations omitted).)
M. George M.D., who has treated the claimant approximately five times a
year since 1992 with his last examination July 11, 2013, issued two medical
opinions. Dr. George stated that the claimant’s diagnoses are OCD, anxiety,
depression, insomnia and rectal bleeding with fatigue and weakness related
only to the claimant’s insomnia. The claimant did not testify that insomnia
was an ongoing limitation. Dr. George checked that the claimant has medical
signs and laboratory findings that show the existence of a medical
impairment or impairments, which could reasonably be expected to produce
the pain or other symptoms alleged but then cites to the claimant’s
complaints of anxiety, depression, urinary frequency, insomnia,
hyperactivity and OCD, none of which are supported by any objective
medical tests or treatment that would result in the need for the sedentary or
light work limitations indicated by Dr. George. Dr. George issued a separate
opinion as to the claimant’s anxiety related disorder noting that the claimant
has generalized persistent anxiety accompanied by motor tension,
apprehensive expectation and vigilance scanning; a persistent irrational fear
of a specific object, activity, or situation, which results in a compelling
desire to avoid the dreaded object, activity, or situation noting medical
situation; recurrent severe panic attacks twice per week manifested by a
sudden unpredictable onset of intense apprehension, fear, terror, and
impending doom resulting in marked difficulties in maintaining social
functioning; deficiencies of concentration, persistence, or pace resulting in
frequent failure to complete tasks in a timely manner; repeated episodes of
deterioration or decompensation in work or work-like settings, which cause
the claimant to withdraw from that situation or to experience exacerbation of
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signs and symptoms resulting in complete inability to function
independently outside the area of one’s home.
Dr. George is the claimant’s treating physician; the claimant testified that he
treated with Dr. Arends for his mental conditions. Therefore, I assign no
weight to Dr. George’s opinion since Dr. George appears to be addressing
[Plaintiff’s] mental limitations, which are best addressed by his psychiatrist,
Dr. Arends. Further, the record does not support the need for any exertional
limitations as set forth by Dr. George.
This is not a case in which the ALJ merely provided a cursory and
perfunctory statement as to why he disregarded the treating physician’s opinion.4
Numerous reasons are present here. First, as the Magistrate Judge rightly pointed
It isn’t clear what medical evidence of record supports Dr. George’s finding
that Plaintiff’s anxiety is accompanied by motor tension, apprehensive
expectation, and vigilance and scanning, as well as a persistent irrational fear
of ‘medical situation[s]’ or that Plaintiff has ‘marked difficulties in
maintaining social functioning,’ ‘deficiencies of concentration, persistence,
or pace resulting in frequent failure to complete tasks in a timely manner,’
and ‘[r]epeated episodes of deterioration or decompensation.’”
(R&R at 11) (citing Tr. 253-254).
The ALJ thoroughly discussed the record evidence from the consultative
examination – much of which is inconsistent with Dr. George’s findings – and
found that 1) Plaintiff had mild restrictions involving rituals and moderate
Plaintiff also takes issue with the fact that, after according no weight to Dr. George’s
opinion, the ALJ then discredited the opinion of Dr. Arends. It is unclear to the Court –
and Plaintiff does not explain – how the ALJ’s decision was improper in this regard.
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difficulties in social functioning, concentration, and persistence or pace; 2)
Plaintiff denied needing assistance for his basic needs of food, clothing, and
shelter; 3) Plaintiff was able to shop at the grocery store; 4) Plaintiff has one or two
distance acquaintances; 5) Plaintiff has experienced no episodes of
decompensation of extended duration; and 6) Plaintiff reports suicidal ideations but
no current suicidal intent. (Tr. 17-18). The ALJ cited the notes from the examiners,
Dr. Bonanno and Dr. Silverman, in support of these conclusions. He also explained
that he assigned limited weight to the opinion of Dr. Arends because Dr. Arends’
opinion was based on only one visit with Plaintiff. (Tr. 22-23).
There are other inconsistencies among Plaintiff’s testimony, Dr. George’s
opinion, and the record evidence. For example, although Dr. George diagnosed
Plaintiff with insomnia, Plaintiff never testified “that insomnia was an ongoing
limitation.” (Tr. 21). Additionally, in concluding that Plaintiff required sedentary
or light work limitations, Dr. George only cited to Plaintiff’s complaints of various
mental ailments, including anxiety, depression, and OCD; as the ALJ pointed out,
however, none of these “are supported by any objective medical tests or treatment
that would result in the need for” such limitations. Id. Plaintiff also testified that
his medications cause drowsiness, while Dr. George stated that there were no side
effects. (Tr. 18, 257).
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Plaintiff argues that “reliance on a GAF score to reject the opinion of Dr.
George would have been erroneous.” (Pl.’s Obj. at 5). The Court assumes that
Plaintiff is referring to the ALJ’s decision to accord great weight to the GAF score
of 56, assigned by the consultative examiners, Drs. Bonanno and Silverman. Drs.
Bonanno and Silverman “diagnosed OCD, psychological factors affecting medical
conditions and rule[d] out cognitive disorder.” (Tr. 17). This score “represents
moderate symptoms or moderate difficulty in social, occupational, or school
The Sixth Circuit takes “a case-by-case approach to the value of GAF
scores.” Miller v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 811 F.3d 825, 836 (6th Cir. 2016). “[W]hile
GAF scores are not essential to the RFC’s accuracy, [they] nevertheless may be of
considerable help to the ALJ in formulating the RFC.” Ali v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
No. 15-14483, 2017 WL 726665, at *13 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 20, 2017), report and
recommendation adopted, No. 15-14483, 2017 WL 712899 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 23,
2017) (citing Miller, 811 F.3d at 836) (internal quotations omitted).
The ALJ was correct to rely on this GAF score, as it was supported by
substantial evidence in the record – specifically, the opinions of Dr. Silverman and
Dr. Kaul (Tr. 17, 21). Those doctors noted, and the ALJ considered, that Plaintiff
drove himself to the consultative evaluation; was currently taking Xanax; had no
past inpatient psychiatric treatment or therapy; performed well on his concentration
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tests; and was “capable of low stress simple, routine, one-two step unskilled tasks.”
Id. It was also proper for the ALJ to accord no weight to Dr. Arends’ GAF scores
because they were unsupported by the record evidence and because Dr. Arends’
opinion as to Plaintiff’s limitations was based on a single visit. (Tr. 23, 202-03).
It is clear to the Court that, contrary to Plaintiff’s assertions, the ALJ’s
decision to assign no weight to Dr. George’s opinion was based on substantial
evidence. In overruling Plaintiff’s Objection, the Court does not demean or belittle
Plaintiff’s mental health issues; the Court recognizes Plaintiff’s “long history of
mental impairments dating back to high school.” (Tr. 20). The fact of the matter is
that Dr. George’s opinions were not well supported and the ALJ was entitled to
discredit his findings. See Pitts, 2011 WL 2553340, at *9.
The ALJ’s Credibility Evaluation
It is well established that the ALJ is responsible for evaluating the credibility
of witnesses. Rogers, 486 F.3d at 247. This does not mean that the ALJ is free “to
make credibility determinations based solely upon an ‘intangible or intuitive notion
about an individual’s credibility.’” Id. (citing Soc. Sec. Rul. 96-7). “Rather, such
determinations must find support in the record.” Id. In assessing an individual’s
credibility, the ALJ considers (1) the claimant’s daily activities, (2) the location,
duration, frequency, and intensity of the claimant’s pain or other symptoms, (3)
precipitating and aggravating factors, (4) the type of dosage, effectiveness, and
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side effects of any medication taken to alleviate pain or other symptoms, (5)
treatment, other than medication, for symptom relief, (6) any measures used to
relieve the symptoms, and (7) functional limitations and restrictions due to the pain
or other symptoms. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(c)(3), 416.929(c)(3). Although an
ALJ’s credibility determination is generally entitled to great deference,
“[d]iscounting credibility to a certain degree is appropriate where an ALJ finds
contradictions among the medical reports, claimant’s testimony and other
evidence.” Walters v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff challenges the ALJ’s determination that 1) Plaintiff told Dr. Arends
that his depression had improved; 2) Dr. Arends believed that Plaintiff “sought and
obtained treatment with Dr. Arends for the sole purpose of establishing entitlement
to disability,” which lessened his credibility; and 3) the records from Dr. Arends do
not support Plaintiff’s testimony that he treated with Dr. Arrends once a month.
(Tr. 21, 22). The Magistrate Judge found that the ALJ’s decision was supported by
substantial evidence, but stated that even if it were not, “the ALJ also discussed
other relevant factors in his decision, including the fact that Plaintiff has never
received inpatient psychiatric treatment, has only ‘mild restriction of activities of
daily living,’ and ‘moderate limitations in social functioning.’” (R&R at 16) (citing
Tr. 16, 17). Plaintiff contends that “two of the three other relevant factors cited are
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actually just the ALJ’s own PRT5 conclusions, which plainly themselves are not
evidence.” (Pl.’s Obj. at 8). Plaintiff neither explains nor cites to any authority in
support of this statement.
Plaintiff asserts that the Magistrate Judge erred in relying on a selected GAF
score, but then states: “even the multiple assignments of low GAF scores in the
record belie” the suggestion that he only experienced moderate problems. Id.
Plaintiff criticizes the Magistrate Judge’s reliance on the GAF, but then proceeds to
do so himself. As discussed above, there is no sweeping ban on the use of GAF
scores and courts are free to examine them on a case-by-case basis. See Miller, 811
F.3d at 836.
Plaintiff argues that it was impermissible for the ALJ “to selectively read the
record and cherry pick aspects” to support his decision. (Pl.’s Obj. at 9).
Specifically, Plaintiff contends that the ALJ only focused on instances of
improvement in his history of mental health issues, rather than examining the
complete record. While it is certainly true that an ALJ “may not cherry-pick facts
to support a finding of non-disability while ignoring evidence that points to a
disability finding,” that is not what happened here. Smith v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
2013 WL 943874, at *6 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 11, 2013). To the contrary, the ALJ’s
PRT refers to Psychiatric Review Technique. The technique “requires adjudicators to
assess an individual’s limitations and restrictions from a mental impairment(s) in
categories identified in the “paragraph B” and “paragraph C” criteria of the adult mental
disorders listings.” SSR No. 96-8p, 1996 SSR LEXIS 5.
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decision shows that he exhaustively considered all of the evidence, including the
fact that Plaintiff has a long history of mental health issues, he receives outpatient
mental health services, he engages in certain specific rituals, and he reports
suicidal ideations. (Tr. 17-20). Furthermore, “the ALJ does not ‘cherry pick’ the
evidence merely by resolving some inconsistencies unfavorably to a claimant’s
position.” Solembrino v. Astrue, 2011 WL 2115872, at *8 (N.D. Ohio May 27,
Plaintiff contends that the ALJ engaged in impermissible speculation when
he noted that Dr. Arends’ observed that Plaintiff was “too preaware” on certain
topics and that “Dr. Arends believes the claimant may have sought and obtained
treatment with Dr. Arends for the sole purpose of establishing entitlement to
disability, which lessens the claimant’s credibility.” (Tr. 21). Plaintiff asserts that
“the government itself apparently disclaimed [this] idea” (he does not explain how)
and concludes that “the ALJ stated no basis for the conjecture.” (Pl.’s Obj. at 10).
The Mental Capacities Evaluation completed by Dr. Arends undermines Plaintiff’s
argument; Dr. Arends noted on June 10, 2013 that Plaintiff “seemed too preaware
on 2 topics 1) controlled substances 2) aware- syntax with disability mentality –
language – culture.” (Tr. 201). The fact that Plaintiff was “very aware” appears in
Dr. Arends’ notes a second time; Dr. Arends said that Plaintiff was “very aware
[of] categories of controlled substances, [and] has vocab & statements suggestive
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of ‘disability.’” (Tr. 210). Given that Dr. Arends expressed some concerns as to
Plaintiff’s motives, it was perfectly reasonable for the ALJ to give less weight to
Plaintiff also faults the ALJ for finding that the record did not support his
testimony that he saw Dr. Arends once per month. The ALJ found that “the record
submitted from Dr. Arends do not support this amount of treatment.” (Tr. 22).
Plaintiff first treated with Dr. Arends on November 26, 2012, and followed up in
November 2013 and January 2014. The ALJ’s assessment of the treatment
relationship between Plaintiff and Dr. Arends is supported by the evidence in the
record (Tr. 203, 260, 262, 265).
The Court declines to disturb the ALJ’s credibility determination because
there is no compelling reason to do so. Smith v. Halter, 307 F.3d 377, 379 (6th Cir.
2001). It is not for the Court to “try the case anew, resolve conflicts in the
evidence, or decide questions of credibility.” Sullenger v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 255
Fed. Appx. 988, 995 (6th Cir. 2007).
For the reasons stated above,
IT IS ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation  is ADOPTED
and entered as the findings and conclusions of the Court. Plaintiff’s Objection to
the Report and Recommendation  is OVERRULED.
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IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion for Summary
Judgment  is GRANTED.
Plaintiff’s Motion for Order Permitting the
Supplementing of the Transcript  is GRANTED. Plaintiff’s Motion for
Summary Judgment  is DENIED.
Dated: March 31, 2017
s/Arthur J. Tarnow
Arthur J. Tarnow
Senior United States District Judge
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