Bonica v. Commissioner of Social Security
Memorandum Opinion and Order For the reasons stated in the Order, the Court hereby ADOPTS the R&R (Doc #: 17 ), OVERRULES the Objections (Doc #: 18 ), and AFFIRMS the final decision of the Commissioner denying Plaintiff Roberta A. Bonica's application for Supplemental Security Income. Signed by Judge Dan Aaron Polster on 5/14/2014. (K,K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
ROBERTA A. BONICA,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
CASE NO. 1:13 CV 957
JUDGE DAN AARON POLSTER
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
This case is before the Court on the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge
Kathleen B. Burke. (Doc #: 17 (“R&R”).) Magistrate Burke recommends that the Court affirm
the final decision of the Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying
Plaintiff Roberta A. Bonica’s application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). (Id.)
In arriving at this conclusion, Magistrate Burke first noted that Plaintiff waived her right
to counsel. (R&R at 1.) She then detailed Bonica’s prior, unsuccessful applications for SSI and
Disability Insurance Benefits. (Id. at 2-3.) Magistrate Burke summarized Bonica’s personal and
vocational evidence; her pertinent medical history; the medical opinion evidence of Bonica’s
treating physicians, consulting healthcare professionals, and the state agency healthcare
professionals; Bonica’s testimony at the hearing; and the vocational expert’s testimony. (Id.3-8.)
Magistrate Burke correctly notes that, in her merits brief, Bonica did not identify a particular
error in the ALJ’s decision, but asserted that her disabling conditions have not improved since
her previous award of damages for a closed-end period in 1996 and 1997. As Bonica has
represented herself through these proceedings, Magistrate Burke liberally construed her merits
brief as challenging whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s decision that Bonica is not
disabled. (R&R at 11.) At pages12 through 16 of the R&R, the Magistrate Judge concisely
articulates the reasons supporting her conclusion that the ALJ’s disability determination is
supported by substantial evidence.
Bonica has filed objections to the R&R. (Doc #: 18 (“Objections”).) To begin, she
complains that she “has been denied her Equal Rights to Justice because no attorney could be
retained on her behalf” and her signed waiver of her right to counsel “was not by choice.” (Id.
at 1.) This assertion reiterates the complaint in her merits brief that “she has not been able to
secure counsel” leaving her case “in the hands of an incompetent as to legal procedure.” (Doc
#: 15 at 1.) In response, the Commissioner notes that the record shows Bonica was notified of
her statutory right to counsel seven times in these latest proceedings – including at her
November 2011 and March 2012 administrative hearings at which times she indicated that she
understood her right to representation but wished to proceed with the hearings without counsel,
and signed a written waiver of that right. (See Doc #: 19, at 2-3.) Accordingly, this “objection”
Bonica also argues, without explanation, that the opinions of her treating physicians
should be given controlling weight. This is in response to Magistrate Judge Burke’s finding that
the ALJ set forth good reasons for discounting those opinions. (See R&R at 14 (stating that the
opinions of Doctors Tyler and Zinni were inconsistent and unsupported, and their comments that
Bonica was unemployable were conclusory and reserved solely for the Commissioner).)
Bonica’s conclusory assertion is also overruled.
Finally, Bonica claims, for the first time on appeal to the district court, that there is
significant evidence missing such as records of Dr. Zinni’s prescriptions, and of pain and
physical therapy referred by Dr. Tyler. The Court may not consider evidence presented for the
first time to the district court in deciding whether to uphold, modify, or reverse the ALJ’s
decision. Perry ex rel. King v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. , 2013 WL 3328523, at 7 (E.D. Mich.
Jul. 2, 2013) (citation omitted).
For these reasons, the Court hereby ADOPTS the R&R (Doc #: 17), OVERRULES the
Objections (Doc #: 18), and AFFIRMS the final decision of the Commissioner denying Plaintiff
Roberta A. Bonica’s application for Supplemental Security Income.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dan A. Polster May 14, 2014
Dan Aaron Polster
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?