Mokbel-Aljahmi v. Social Security
OPINION AND ORDER Overruling 16 Plaintiff's Objections; Adopting 15 Report and Recommendation; Denying 12 Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Mohamed Ahmed Mokbel-Aljahmi and Granting 13 Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Commissioner of Social Security, Signed by District Judge Robert H. Cleland. (LWag)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
MOHAMED AHMED MOKBEL-ALJAHMI,
Case No. 2-16-cv-12075
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
OPINION AND ORDER (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF’S OBJECTIONS;
(2) ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION;
(3) DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT;
AND (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Plaintiff Mohamed Ahmed Mokebel-Aljahmi appeals from Defendant
Commissioner of Social Security’s denial of his application for disability income benefits.
Magistrate Judge Mona k. Majzoub issued a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”)
(Dkt. # 15) advising the court to deny Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment (Dkt. #
12) and grant Defendant’s motion for summary judgment (Dkt. # 13). Plaintiff timely filed
Objections to the R&R (Dkt. # 16), to which Defendant responded (Dkt. # 18). After
reviewing the R&R and the parties’ briefs, 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 objections and adopt the R&R.
A. Timely Objections and De Novo Review
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, 673-74 (1980); United States v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 949 (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)).
B. Substantial Evidence Standard
In a social security case, the court “must affirm the Commissioner’s decision if it
‘is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal
standards.’” Rabbers v. Comm’r Soc. Sec. Admin., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009)
(quoting Rogers v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007)); see also 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). When, as here, the Appeals Council declines review of a plaintiff’s
claim, “the decision of the ALJ becomes the final decision of the [Commissioner].”
Casey v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993).
The court’s review of the record for substantial evidence is quite deferential to the
ALJ. “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a
preponderance and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion,” Pittsburgh & Conneaut Dock Co. v. Dir., Office of
Workers’ Comp. Programs, 473 F.3d 253, 259 (6th Cir. 2007), “even if that evidence
could support a decision the other way,” Casey, 987 F.2d at 1233. Moreover, the court
bases its review on the entire administrative record, not just what the ALJ cited. Heston
v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 535 (6th Cir. 2001). “Even if supported by
substantial evidence, however, a decision of the Commissioner will not be upheld where
the [Social Security Administration] fails to follow its own regulations and where that
error prejudices a claimant on the merits or deprives the claimant of a substantial right.”
Bowen v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 746 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing Wilson v.
Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 546-47 (6th Cir. 2004)).
A. Objection One
Plaintiff’s first objection merely reiterates parts of the argument section from his
Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 13, Pg. ID 1215-1218), attempting to rebrand
them as objections to the R&R. (Dkt. #16, Pg. ID 1288,1292-1296.) Plaintiff’s few
additions to his earlier arguments appear to be nothing other than general objections to
the Magistrate Judge’s recommendations. Disagreement with the Magistrate Judge’s
recommendations without any argument as to the specific errors in the Magistrate
Judge’s analysis is the equivalent of failing to file an objection. See Wallace v. Comm’r
of Soc. Sec., No. 15-11839, 2016 WL 4409062, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Aug. 19, 2016).
Further, the arguments Plaintiff advances in his general objections were
sufficiently considered and rejected by the Magistrate Judge who concluded that the
ALJ’s findings were based on substantial evidence in the record. For example, Plaintiff
complains that this court should reject the R&R because the ALJ did not incorporate a
reaching limitation beyond the overhead limitation. Quoting from Plaintiff’s brief, Judge
Majzoub expressly considered this argument and rejected it in the R&R. (Dkt. #15, Pg.
ID 1272.) Judge Majzoub concluded that the ALJ properly relied on Dr. Mahmood
Rahim’s opinion1 that Plaintiff had “normal movement of all extremities” as well as Dr.
Dinesh Tanna’s opinion2 that Plaintiff was only limited in his ability to reach overhead.
Plaintiff raises no specific objections to Magistrate Judge Majzoub’s analysis in the R&R
on this point, but merely repeats his brief in opposition to the ALJ’s findings. The court
will not entertain the rehashing of previous arguments, especially when Plaintiff fails to
address the Magistrate Judge’s independent analysis of those arguments; Plaintiff’s first
objection is overruled. See Janney v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 3:13CV399, 2014 WL
1117826, at *1 (N.D. Ohio March 19, 2014).
Dr. Rahim was Plaintiff’s treating internist.
Dr. Tanna was the State agency physician who reviewed Plaintiff’s case.
B. Objection Two
Plaintiff argues that a review of the ALJ’s decision does not “reveal consideration
of the treating psychiatrist’s opinions” and that the Magistrate Judge was wrong to
conclude that the ALJ’s consideration was sufficient. (Dkt. # 16 Pg. ID 1295). An ALJ is
required to give good reasons for affording a treating-source opinion anything less than
controlling weight. Francis v. Comm’r Soc. Sec. Admin., 414 F. App’x 802, 804 (2011).
Contrary to Plaintiff’s claim, the ALJ did not “ignore part of the [psychiatrist’s] opinion.”
Rather, the ALJ and Magistrate Judge Majzoub detailed how the treating psychiatrist’s,
Dr. Al-Najjar, opinion was inconsistent with the totality of the evidence and accordingly
entitled to less weight. (See R&R, Pg. ID 1278.) Moreover, the ALJ cited to Dr. AlNajjar’s opinion and discussed Dr. Al-Najjar’s conclusions in his analysis demonstrating
that he reviewed all of Dr. Al-Najjar’s findings before determining that they were
inconsistent with the totality of the evidence. For those portions of Dr. Al-Najjar’s opinion
that the ALJ determined were not inconsistent with the record, Judge Majzoub noted
that the ALJ adequately incorporated them in his recommendation. For instance, the
ALJ included limitations on Plaintiff’s interaction with the general public and his decisionmaking in the work place as a result of Dr. Al-Najjar’s documentation of Plaintiff’s
memory and concentration problems. Plaintiff’s second objection is overruled.
C. Objection Three
Plaintiff next objects because the R&R should not have accepted the ALJ’s
finding that Plaintiff’s subjective complaints were not credible. Judge Majzoub reviewed
and discussed the ALJ’s reasons for finding that Plaintiff was not credible. Plaintiff does
not engage with Judge Majzoub’s analysis in his objections, but rather reiterates his
same criticisms of the ALJ that he raised in his Motion of Summary Judgment brief. In
the R&R, Judge Majzoub emphasized portions of the ALJ’s report in which the ALJ
provided ample reasons for discrediting Plaintiff. For instance, Plaintiff testified that he
required a cane to ambulate, but Dr. Bassam Maaz3 and the consultive examiner both
indicated that Plaintiff could walk without difficulty. Perhaps most damning of the
evidence highlighted by Judge Majzoub and the ALJ is a report by Dr. Nick Boneff4 in
which he concluded that Plaintiff’s low scores on his IQ test were due to “insufficient
effort on his part.” Judge Majzoub did not err in concluding that the ALJ’s finding as to
Plaintiff’s credibility is supported by substantial evidence in the record; Plaintiff’s third
objection is overruled.
C. Objection Four
In Plaintiff’s fourth objection, he briefly argues that the ALJ did not carry the
Commissioner’s burden of proof at Step Five in the social security disability
determination process. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(f). However, Plaintiff provides no
independent reason for why Judge Majzoub was wrong to conclude that the ALJ did
carry such burden other than to state that “the RFC should not in fact be sustained, for
the reasons discussed.” “[B]are disagreement with the conclusions reached by the
Magistrate Judge, without any effort to identify any specific errors in the Magistrate
Dr. Maaz is a neurologist who examined Plaintiff.
Dr. Boneff is a psychologist who examined Plaintiff.
Judge’s analysis that, if corrected, might warrant a different outcome, is tantamount to
an outright failure to lodge objections to the R & R.” Arroyo v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No.
14-14358, 2016 WL 424939, at *3 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 4, 2016). Plaintiff’s fourth and final
objection is overruled.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s objections (Dkt. # 16) are OVERRULED
and the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation (Dkt. # 15) is ADOPTED IN FULL
AND INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt.
# 12) is DENIED and Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. # 13) is GRANTED.
s/Robert H. Cleland
ROBERT H. CLELAND
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated: September 26, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was mailed to counsel of record on
this date, September 26, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
Case Manager and Deputy Clerk
S:\Cleland\JUDGE'S DESK\C2 ORDERS\16-12075.MOKBEL-ALJAHMI.patternreject cursoryobjecitonsR&R.aju.wpd
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