Ward v. Commissioner of Social Security
OPINION AND ORDER re: 16 MOTION for Judgment on the Pleadings. filed by Commissioner of Social Security. For the reasons stated herein, the Court adopts the Report in full. Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied, and the c ase remanded for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion & Order. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate the motion pending at docket number 16, and to close this case. (Signed by Judge Paul A. Engelmayer on 1/24/2014) (djc) Modified on 1/24/2014 (djc).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
SHEILA C. WARD,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
11 Civ. 6157 (PAE)
OPINION & ORDER
PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, District Judge:
Before the Court is the December 10, 2013 Report and Recommendation (“Report”) of
Magistrate Judge Henry B. Pitman, recommending that the Court deny defendant’s unopposed
motion for judgment on the pleadings and remand the case to the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) for further proceedings. For the reasons that follow, the Court adopts the Report in
Background and Procedural History
On August 23, 2011, Sheila C. Ward (“Ward”), proceeding pro se, filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”) finding her ineligible for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits. Dkt. 2.
On July 23, 2012, defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Dkt. 16. Ward failed to oppose defendant’s motion, despite
having originally been ordered to do so by August 22, 2012, see Dkt. 15, and later having been
given until April 29, 2013, see Dkt. 19. 1
On December 10, 2013, Judge Pitman issued the Report, recommending that defendant’s
motion for judgment on the pleadings be denied. Dkt. 21. The Report explained that “[p]laintiff
is entitled to have her complete medical history 12 months prior to her application for SSI
benefits and the opinions of her treating physicians, if any, considered by the ALJ before a
decision is rendered.” Report at 50. “In this case, the ALJ failed to develop plaintiff’s complete
medical history for the 12-month period preceding the . . . month she filed her application.” Id.
at 45. And the ALJ “fail[ed] to make every reasonable effort to obtain medical opinions from
plaintiff’s treating physicians.” Id. at 46. “First, there is no indication that the ALJ requested
reports from [Ward’s treating physicians] . . . [or] made additional attempts to obtain [their]
reports” when they were not produced along with her medical records. Id. at 47−48. “Second,
the ALJ did not inform [the pro se] plaintiff of the importance of obtaining her treating
physicians’ medical opinions.” Id. at 49. Thus, the Report concluded, “[t]he ALJ’s failures to
develop the record constitute legal error,” and remand to the SSA for further proceedings is
required. Id. at 50. The Report further stated that “[o]n remand, the ALJ should obtain medical
records from plaintiff’s medical sources for the months of November and December 2008. The
ALJ should also make and document his attempts to obtain reports from [Ward’s treating
physicians] setting [out] their opinions as to the existence, nature and severity of plaintiff’s
claimed disabilities.” Id.
By Order dated March 29, 2013, Judge Pitman warned Ward that she had “not served or filed
any opposition to the motion,” and that “[i]n the absence of a request for an extension of time, I
shall consider the motion fully submitted as of [April 29, 2013] and ready for decision.” Dkt. 19.
The deadline for the parties to file objections to the Report was December 24, 2013. To
this date, no objections have been filed.
In reviewing a Report and Recommendation, a district court “may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). To accept those portions of the report to which no timely objection has
been made, “a district court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the
record.” King v. Greiner, No. 02 Civ. 5810 (DLC), 2009 WL 2001439, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. July 8,
2009) (quoting Wilds v. United Parcel Serv., 262 F. Supp. 2d 163, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 2003)); see
also Edwards v. Fischer, 414 F. Supp. 2d 342, 346–47 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
Because neither Ward nor the Commissioner has submitted objections to the Report,
review for clear error is appropriate. Careful review of Judge Pitman’s thorough and wellreasoned Report reveals no facial error in its conclusions; the Report is therefore adopted in its
entirety. Because the Report explicitly states that “[f]ailure to object within fourteen (14) days
will result in a waiver of objections and will preclude appellate review,” Report at 52 (emphases
omitted), the failure to object operates as a waiver of appellate review. See Caidor v. Onondaga
Cnty., 517 F.3d 601, 604 (2d Cir. 2008) (citing Small v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 892
F.2d 15, 16 (2d Cir. 1989)).
For the reasons stated herein, the Court adopts the Report in full. Defendant’s motion for
judgment on the pleadings is denied, and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent
with this Opinion & Order. The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate the motion pending at
docket number 16, and to close this case.
Paul A. Engelrnayer
United States District Judge
Dated: January 24, 2014
New York, New York
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