Ford v. SSA, Commissioner of
OPINION & ORDER Adopting Report and Recommendation 15 denying pltf's 12 Motion for Summary Judgment and granting deft's 14 Motion for Summary Judgment. Decision of Commissioner is affirmed and case is dismissed. Signed by District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds. (CBet)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
MICHELLE RENA FORD,
Case No. 16-11725
Honorable Nancy G. Edmunds
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
OPINION AND ORDER ACCEPTING AND ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
Plaintiff Michelle Ford seeks review of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's
determination that she is not entitled to social security benefits. The Court referred the
matter to Magistrate Judge David Grand, and on January 31, 2017, the Magistrate Judge
issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) that the Court affirm the Commissioner's
decision. On February 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed two objections to the R&R (Dkt. 16), which
the Court considers here. For the reasons stated below, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's
objections and ACCEPTS AND ADOPTS the R&R. As a result, Defendant's motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED , Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED
, the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED, and the case is DISMISSED.
Standard of Review
When a party objects to portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation
on a dispositive motion, the Court reviews such portions de novo. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).
However, only specific objections that pinpoint a source of error are entitled to de novo
review. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). General objections, or those
that merely challenge the magistrate judge's ultimate determinations, have "the same
effects as would a failure to object." Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). That is, such objections are invalid, and the Court may treat
them as if they were waived. See Harris v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2017 WL 343729, at *1
(E.D. Mich. Jan. 24, 2017).
Plaintiff raises two objections to the R&R. First, Plaintiff contests the R&R's finding
that the ALJ was not required to recontact Dr. Diab, her treating physician. (Dkt. 16, at 2.)
The R&R describes Dr. Diab's treatment notes as "largely illegible" (Dkt. 15, at 12), and
Plaintiff contends that the case must be remanded to the ALJ to clarify those notes.
Plaintiff argues that a full understanding of the notes is necessary because they might be
the only evidence in which a medical provider corroborates her claim of depression. (Dkt.
16, at 3-4.) The Court disagrees with Plaintiff.
The applicable regulation provides that the ALJ "may recontact your treating
physician, psychologist, or other medical source." 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520b(c)(1) (emphasis
added). "The decision to recontact is driven by the inadequacy of the evidence in the
record." Perry v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2016 WL 1084682, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 21, 2016)
(internal citations omitted). "Thus, if the record contains sufficient evidence, recontacting
sources is unnecessary." Id.; see also Dooley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 656 F. App'x 113,
123 (6th Cir. 2016) (holding that an ALJ's decision not to contact a medical provider for
clarification was not an abuse of discretion where the ALJ's "thorough opinion
demonstrates that he carefully considered the entire record ... before determining that there
was sufficient evidence in the record to conclude that Dooley was not disabled").
Based on this standard, the R&R's conclusion that the ALJ had no duty to recontact
Dr. Diab is correct. The R&R reviews the evidence that the ALJ considered when
assessing Plaintiff's mental RFC, including "that no other treating or examining source of
record observed mental limitations and that the record contains no evidence of other
mental health treatment, such as psychotherapy." (Dkt. 15, at 14 (internal citations and
quotation marks omitted).) Then the R&R concludes that this evidence was sufficient to
determine that Plaintiff did not suffer from specific limitations in mental functioning, making
it unnecessary to clarify Dr. Diab's notes. The Court agrees with that analysis. Moreover,
the Court agrees with the R&R's determination that "even if the Court were to find that the
ALJ erred in failing to re-contact Dr. Diab for clarification of his treatment notes, any such
error would be harmless because the record as a whole fails to demonstrate that Ford's
alleged depression is severe, let alone that it imposes limitations inconsistent with the
demands of unskilled work." (Id.) Accordingly, the Court finds that Plaintiff's first objection
lacks merit, and it is overruled.
Second, Plaintiff objects to the R&R's finding that the ALJ's decision was supported
by substantial evidence. (Dkt. 16, at 4.) Plaintiff argues that "the Magistrate Judge
misconstrued medical evidence and testimony that ultimately, resulted in an inadequate
RFC[.]" (Dkt. 16, at 5.) And Plaintiff directs the Court to roughly a dozen portions of the
record that Plaintiff believes compel a different result, essentially rearguing her case. Given
that this objection merely challenges the Magistrate Judge's ultimate determination, it
amounts to a general objection, so the Court may and does treat it as waived. Howard,
932 F.2d at 509; see also Miller v. Currie, 50 F.3d 373, 380 (6th Cir. 1995) (holding that
general objections to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation that are "summary
in nature, with no specificity at all," are insufficient). Therefore, Plaintiff's second objection
is also overruled.
Given that Plaintiff's objections to the R&R have been overruled, the Court ACCEPTS
AND ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's R&R. Accordingly, Defendant's motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED, and this case is DISMISSED.
s/Nancy G. Edmunds
Nancy G. Edmunds
United States District Judge
Dated: March 8, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of record
on March 8, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/Carol J. Bethel
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