Rice v. Social Security, Commissioner of
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (Doc. 18) ANDDENYING PLAINTIFFS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 15) ANDGRANTING DEFENDANTS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 16) AND DISMISSING CASE Signed by District Judge Avern Cohn. (MVer)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JAMES R. RICE, JR.,
Case No. 16-11330
HON. AVERN COHN
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION (Doc. 18)
DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 15)
GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 16)
This is a Social Security case. Plaintiff James R. Rice, Jr., proceeding pro se,
appeals from the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner)
denying his application for Social Security disability benefits (benefits). Plaintiff claimed
disability since 2011. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment. The
motions were referred to a magistrate judge for a report and recommendation (MJRR).
The magistrate judge recommends that plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment be
denied and that the Commissioner’s motion for summary judgment be granted.
Before the Court are plaintiff’s objections to the MJRR. For reasons that follow,
the MJRR will be adopted, plaintiff’s motion will be denied, the Commissioner’s motion
will be granted, and this case will be dismissed.
The MJRR accurately sets forth the relevant facts which will not be repeated
here. Briefly, plaintiff was 39 years old at the time of application for benefits, has a high
school education, and past relevant work as a warehouse worker and custodian. The
ALJ determined that plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: obesity,
obstructive sleep apnea, and a history of narcolepsy. The ALJ also determined that
plaintiff’s impairments did not render him unable to work; rather, he had the ability to
perform light work with some restrictions.
The magistrate judge, reviewing the parties’ motions,1 concluded that the
Commissioner did not commit any obvious errors in determining that plaintiff is not
eligible for benefits.
III. Standard of Review
Judicial review of a Social Security disability benefits application is limited to
determining whether the “the commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal
standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the
record.” Walters v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). A
reviewing court may not resolve conflicts in the evidence or decide questions of
As the magistrate judge noted, plaintiff’s motion consists of a single page in which he
contends he needs benefits and is unable to work due to his sleep condition and back
credibility. Brainard v. Sec’y of HHS, 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989). Substantial
evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). It is “more
than a scintilla but less than a preponderance.” Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S.
197, 299 (1938). The substantiality of the evidence must be based upon the record
taken as a whole. Futernick v. Richardson, 484 F.2d 647, 649 (6th Cir. 1973). The
substantial evidence standard “presupposes that there is a zone of choice within which
the decisionmakers can go either way, without interference with the courts.” Mullen v.
Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986).
A district court must conduct a de novo review of the parts of a magistrate
judge’s report and recommendation to which a party objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
The district “court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate” judge. Id. The requirement of de novo
review “is a statutory recognition that Article III of the United States Constitution
mandates that the judicial power of the United States be vested in judges with life
tenure.” United States v. Shami, 754 F.2d 670, 672 (6th Cir. 1985). Accordingly,
Congress enacted 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) to “insure that the district judge would be the
final arbiter” of a matter referred to a magistrate judge. Flournoy v. Marshall, 842 F.2d
875, 878 (6th Cir. 1987).
The Court has reviewed plaintiff’s objections. Plaintiff contends the medical
evidence supports his inability to work due to his sleep disorders. He also says he has
back pain and cannot sit or stand for more than two hours. These are the same
arguments presented to the magistrate judge. The magistrate judge carefully and fully
evaluated the record in light of the ALJ’s decision and concluded that substantial
evidence supported the Commissioner’s decision. In so doing, the magistrate judge
noted the lack of medical evidence supporting plaintiff’s alleged impairments. Overall,
nothing in plaintiff’s objections convinces the Court that the magistrate judge erred.
For the reasons stated above, the MJRR is ADOPTED as the findings and
conclusions of the Court. Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment is DENIED. The
Commissioner’s motion for summary judgment is GRANTED. This case is DISMISSED.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: September 19, 2017
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