Maurer v. Commissioner of Social Security
OPINION AND ORDER APPROVING AND ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 17 ; Judgment to issue; signed by Judge Janet T. Neff (Judge Janet T. Neff, clb)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JESSE L. MAURER,
Case No: 1:12-cv-647
HON. JANET T. NEFF
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration denying his claim for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI). The matter was referred to the Magistrate Judge, who issued a Report and
Recommendation, recommending that this Court affirm the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) rendered on behalf of the Commissioner. The matter is presently before the Court on
Plaintiff’s two objections to the Report and Recommendation. Defendant did not file a response to
the objections. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b)(3), the Court has
performed de novo consideration of the portions of the Report and Recommendation to which
Plaintiff objects. The Court denies the objections and enters this Opinion and Order.
Plaintiff argued that the ALJ erred in failing to properly consider Listings 12.04 (affective
disorders) and 12.06 (anxiety related disorders). In his Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate
Judge determined that the ALJ’s decision that Plaintiff failed to meet or equal Listings 12.04 or
12.06 is supported by substantial evidence as reflected in Exhibit 3E (adult function report,
Administrative Record [AR] 216-23), Exhibit 11F (consultative examination by R. Scott Lazzara,
M.D., AR 469-73), and Exhibit 12F (psychiatric/psychological medical report by Steve Geiger,
Ph.D., AR 475-79) (R&R, Dkt 17 at 5-8).
In his first objection to the Report and Recommendation, Plaintiff argues that the medical
records and testimony, “fairly assessed,” show that a listing was met (Obj., Dkt 20 at 2-6).
However, Plaintiff’s discussion of the evidence merely demonstrates his disagreement with the
ALJ’s decision that his impairments, considered singly and in combination, do not meet or medically
equal the criteria of Listings 12.04 and 12.06. Plaintiff’s argument does not show that the Magistrate
Judge committed any factual or legal error in his review. “The findings of the Commissioner are
not subject to reversal merely because there exists in the record substantial evidence to support a
different conclusion.” Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 772-73 (6th Cir. 2001). “This is so because
there is a ‘zone of choice’ within which the Commissioner can act without fear of court
interference.” Id. Indeed, “[e]ven in cases where the claimant has had an impairment which came
very close to meeting a listing, this court has refused to disturb the Secretary’s finding on medical
equivalence.” Retka v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 70 F.3d 1272, at *2 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Dorton v.
Heckler, 789 F.2d 363, 366 (6th Cir. 1986) (per curiam); and Price v. Heckler, 767 F.2d 281, 284
(6th Cir. 1985) (per curiam)). Plaintiff’s first objection is therefore denied.
Plaintiff also argued that the ALJ erred by failing to consider the combined effects of his
mental illness and physical symptoms of everyday pain, a combination that Plaintiff opined renders
him unable to perform competitively in the work force. The Magistrate Judge found no merit in
Plaintiff’s argument, determining that the record reflects that the ALJ took into account all of
Plaintiff’s impairments in reaching the determination that he could perform a limited range of light
work (R&R, Dkt 17 at 14-16). Specifically, the Magistrate Judge pointed out that the ALJ stated
the proper standard and that the ALJ properly determined Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity
(RFC) by considering Plaintiff’s “impairments” (including impairments that are not severe) (AR
14-15), discussing each of Plaintiff’s impairments individually (AR 15-20), and reaching his
decision “[a]fter careful consideration of the entire record” (AR 15) (R&R, Dkt 17 at 16).
In his second objection to the Report and Recommendation, Plaintiff restates, nearly
verbatim, the arguments he presented to the Magistrate Judge (Obj., Dkt 20 at 6-8). Local Rule
72.3(b) requires a party filing objections to a report and recommendation to “specifically identify
the portions of the proposed findings, recommendations or report to which objections are made and
the basis for such objections,” W.D. Mich. LCivR 72.3(b); however, Plaintiff’s second objection
does not reference any portion of the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation. The
“objection” therefore fails to identify any factual or legal error in the Magistrate Judge’s review, and
this Court declines to give Plaintiff’s arguments duplicative consideration, an endeavor that would
defeat the purpose and efficiency of consideration by a magistrate judge in the first instance. See
Howard v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991).
In sum, Plaintiff’s objections reveal no error by the Magistrate Judge requiring a disposition
other than the affirmance recommended by the Magistrate Judge. Accordingly:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Objections (Dkt 20) are DENIED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt 17) is APPROVED and ADOPTED as the Opinion
of the Court, and the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security is AFFIRMED.
A Judgment will be entered consistent with this Opinion and Order.
Dated: March 19, 2014
/s/ Janet T. Neff
JANET T. NEFF
United States District Judge
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