Davison v. Commissioner of Social Security
MEMORANDUM ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 18 ; signed by Judge Gordon J. Quist (Judge Gordon J. Quist, jmt)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
DAVID ALTRIC DAVISON,
Case No. 1:12-CV-00273
HON. GORDON J. QUIST
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
MEMORANDUM ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff has filed Objections to Magistrate Judge Hugh W. Brenneman’s Report and
Recommendation (R&R), issued on June 3, 2013, which recommends that the Court deny Plaintiff’s
request for a remand under sentence six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and affirm the Commissioner’s
decision denying Plaintiff disability insurance benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), this
Court is required to review de novo those portions of the R&R to which specific objections have
been made. The Court may accept, reject, or modify any or all of the magistrate judge’s findings
or recommendations. Id. After reviewing the R&R, Plaintiff’s Objections, and the pertinent
portions of the administrative record, the Court will overrule Plaintiff’s Objections and adopt the
R&R as the opinion of the Court.
In his R&R, the magistrate judge concluded that a sentence-six remand was unwarranted
because Plaintiff failed to show “good cause” for failing to present the new evidence to the
administrative law judge (ALJ). (R&R at 11.) The magistrate judge also recommended that the
Court reject Plaintiff’s substantive argument that there was not substantial evidence to deny
disability benefits. Plaintiff objects only to the magistrate judge’s conclusion regarding the
sentence-six remand, arguing that he has shown good cause for his failure to present the new
evidence to the ALJ and that the new evidence is material.
The evidence at issue is a letter from Plaintiff’s family physician, Dr. David J. Smith, dated
May 24, 2010, nearly two months after the ALJ’s decision denying benefits. (AR 729.) The letter
states Dr. Smith’s belief that Plaintiff was unable to “manage his building operation and to perform
the heavy work that his occupation demanded,” or “to perform at a level that would maintain his
business on a successful footing.” (Id.) Dr. Smith states that he believed Plaintiff’s “business was
finished” after he suffered a stroke, and that he recommended that Plaintiff seek disability benefits
at that point. (Id.) Dr. Smith does not cite any medical records in support of his opinion.
A sentence-six remand is warranted only upon a showing that new evidence is “material and
that there is good cause for the failure to incorporate such evidence into the record in a prior
proceeding . . .” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The magistrate found that Plaintiff had not shown good cause
because he provided no evidence to support his assertion that Dr. Smith was unavailable to provide
an opinion before the administrative hearing. In response, Plaintiff’s Objection states that he
attempted to contact Dr. Smith numerous times, but that these efforts were unsuccessful because Dr.
Smith was no longer practicing and was unwilling to help. (Dkt. no. 18.) In support, Plaintiff has
attached a letter his attorney wrote to Dr. Eric Smith, Dr. David Smith’s son, requesting assistance.
Plaintiff’s argument is unavailing. Plaintiff claims that he was unable to get a letter from Dr.
Smith because he was no longer practicing; however, the letter that Dr. Smith eventually provided
is written on letterhead that lists him as President of a medical practice. (AR 729.) Moreover, the
only evidence that Plaintiff has provided regarding his efforts to contact Dr. Smith is a letter that his
attorney wrote to Dr. Smith’s son, Dr. Eric Smith, who is a member of the same medical practice.
(Dkt. no. 19, attachment 1.) In that letter, Plaintiff asks for assistance from Dr. Eric Smith. (Id.)
The letter does not mention Dr. David Smith, or Plaintiff’s inability to contact him. (Id.) Because
Plaintiff has failed to provide evidence to support his assertion that he was unable to get the letter
from Dr. Smith before Plaintiff’s hearing, the Court concurs with the magistrate’s conclusion that
Plaintiff has not shown good cause.
Even if Plaintiff could demonstrate good cause, he cannot show that the evidence is material.
Dr. Smith’s letter expressed his opinion that Plaintiff could no longer manage his business or
perform the heavy work that it entailed. (AR 729.) Because he did not provide any support for his
opinion through medical records, however, it would not be entitled to deference. Sizemore v. Sec’y
of Health & Human Servs., 865 F.2d 709, 711-12 (6th Cir. 1988) (finding that a doctor’s opinion
was not entitled to deference because it was not supported by any laboratory test or diagnostic
procedure). Moreover, the statements in the letter are consistent with evidence presented by a
vocational expert, who testified that Plaintiff could not perform the same work that he had in the
past. (AR 32.) Because the letter would simply confirm evidence that was before the ALJ, it is not
material. See Courter v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 479 F. App’x 713, 726 (6th Cir. 2012) (finding that
new evidence was not “material” because it was consistent with previously presented evidence). The
fact that Dr. Smith believed Plaintiff should seek disability coverage does not change this analysis.
See Schuler v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 109 F. App’x 97, 101 (6th Cir. 2004) (“Conclusory statements
from a physician that the claimant is disabled are not entitled to deference.”)
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation
issued June 3, 2013 (docket no. 18), is ADOPTED as the Opinion of the Court, and the decision of
the Commissioner denying benefits to Plaintiff is AFFIRMED.
A separate judgment will issue.
This case is concluded.
Dated: September 19, 2013
/s/ Gordon J. Quist
GORDON J. QUIST
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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