James v. Commissioner of Social Security
Order Adopting Report and Recommendation in its entirety (related docs 1 , 19 , 20 ). Judge Donald C. Nugent on 9/27/2017 (C,KA)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
CRYSTAL Y. JAMES,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY )
CASE NO. 5:16CV2040
JUDGE DONALD C. NUGENT
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT
This matter comes before the Court upon the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate
Judge Kathleen B. Burke. (ECF #19). Plaintiff, Crystal Y. James, hereafter “Ms. James,” timely
filed Objections to the Report and Recommendations on July 11, 2017. (ECF #20). The Report
and Recommendation, issued on June 27, 2017, is hereby ADOPTED.
Ms. James filed a Complaint on August 16, 2016, requesting judicial review of the final
decision of the Commission of Social Security denying her application for Social Security income
(“SSI”) and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). (ECF #1). Ms. James alleged disabilities
beginning in January of 2008 of chronic leg and knee pain, difficulty breathing, body pain, sleep
apnea, chronic headaches and high blood pressure when she filed for SSI and DIB in February of
2013. (ECF #19, p. 1). Ms. James alleges in her Complaint that the decision of the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) was improper because there is “substantial evidence to support [her] claim to
a period of disability, Disability Insurance Benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income.” (ECF
#1, ¶ 7).
On June 27, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued her Report indicating that the ALJ properly
considered the medical records and medical opinion evidence presented, and properly evaluated
the evidence provided by the vocational expert. The Magistrate Judge also found that the ALJ
properly evaluated James’ credibility. (ECF #19). In her Objections, Ms. James argues that the
ALJ failed to consider certain psychological records, misstated James’ testimony regarding her
ability to stand and/or walk for a specific period of time, disregarded James’ testimony regarding
her “obesity related limitation,” and erred in finding James could “perform work at the light
exertional level.” (ECF #20).1 The Magistrate Judge affirmed the Commissioner’s report in its
entirety, and this court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s recommendations for the reasons set forth
Standard of Review for a Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation
The applicable district court standard of review for a Magistrate Judge’s report and
recommendation depends upon whether objections were made to that report. When objections are
made to a report and recommendation of a Magistrate Judge, the district court reviews the case de
novo. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b) provides this standard of review. It states, in pertinent part, the
The district judge to whom the case is assigned shall make a de novo
determination upon the record, or after additional evidence, of any
portion of the magistrate judge’s disposition to which specific written
objection has been made in accordance with this rule. The district judge
may accept, reject, or modify the recommended decision, receive further
evidence, or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.
James also argues that the Magistrate Judge erred when she corrected the typographical
error in the ALJ’s report, wherein the ALJ wrote that he “considered Listing 3.10,” which
does not exist. The Magistrate Judge properly corrected the statement to indicate
“Listing 3.09,” (chronic pulmonary hypertension), which clearly relates to the medical
testing at issue.
Accordingly, this Court will review the Report and Recommendation, to which Ms. James filed
timely objections, de novo. See Dacas Nursing Support Sys., Inc. v. NLRB, 7 F.3d 511 (6th Cir.
As the Magistrate Judge stated in the report, this Court must affirm the findings of the
Commissioner if it determines that the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards and has
made findings of fact supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Wright
v. Massanari, 321 F.3d 611, 614 (6th Cir. 2003). This Court affirms the report for the following
The Magistrate Judge found that the ALJ properly found that James does not have a severe
psychological impairment. (See ECF #19, pp. 20-22). The report outlines the findings that James
waited years to seek counseling, was non-compliant with her medication, and primarily discussed
physical, not mental, issues during her counseling sessions. Furthermore, this Court finds that the
Magistrate Judge assigned the proper weight to the opinion evidence of the myriad health
professionals who reviewed James’ records, and those who treated and examined James. The
Magistrate Judge outlines how this analysis was conducted by the ALJ for both Ms. James’
psychological and physical treatment. (See ECF #19, pp. 27-29). As the Magistrate Judge
explained: “[t]hat James disagrees with the ALJ’s conclusions is not grounds for reversing the
ALJ’s decision.” Jones v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 477 (6th Cir. 2003).
The Magistrate Judge also found that the ALJ did not err when evaluating whether James’s
obesity “met” or “equaled” the requirements of a disability listing when evaluated in combination
with James’ other alleged impairments. (ECF #19, pp. 22-27). The report outlines treatment notes
indicating that James’ “obesity is likely to have adverse impact upon her co-existing impairments”
and that “these considerations have been taken into account in formulating the claimant’s residual
functional capacity (“RFC”).” (ECF #19, p. 25). However, as the report makes clear, these notes
“are not evidence that James’ obesity in combination with her other impairments meets or equals a
[disability] listing, nor do they suffice as evidence that the ALJ’s RFC assessment is erroneous.”
(ECF #19, p. 25). Again, disagreeing with the ALJ’s conclusions does not warrant a reversal of the
findings. See Jones, 336 F.3d at 477.
The Magistrate Judge also found that the ALJ properly evaluated Ms. James’ credibility
when comparing the medical records and treatment with Ms. James’ subjective complaints and
testimony. (ECF #19, pp. 29-30). This Court agrees. The ALJ’s credibility determination about
Ms. James is to be given great weight, since the ALJ, and not this Court, that is charged with
observing her demeanor and credibility. See Walters v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 531
(6th Cir. 1997); Jones, 336 F.3d at 475. The ALJ’s assessment of Ms. James’ credibility is
supported by substantial evidence, and therefore, will not be disturbed.
Finally, Ms. James’ argues that the ALJ should have found her disabled and only capable
of sedentary work under the Medical Vocational Grid Rule 201.14. (See ECF #19, p. 30). The
Magistrate Judge’s report points out that Ms. James describes no error regarding the vocational
expert’s opinion that she can perform jobs requiring light work with a “sit/stand at will option.”
(ECF #19, p. 30). The Magistrate Judge also found that the ALJ disregarded any insufficient
testimony provided by the vocational expert relating to Ms. James’ work abilities. Therefore, this
Court adopts the Magistrate Judge’s decision relating to Ms. James’ vocational abilities.
This Court has reviewed the Report and Recommendation of this case de novo, see Massey
v. City of Ferndale, 7 F.3d 506 (6th Cir. 1993), and has considered all of the pleadings, affidavits,
motions and filings of the parties. The Court finds the Magistrate Judge’s Report and
Recommendation to be thorough, well-written, well-supported and correct. After careful
evaluation, the findings of fact and conclusions of law set forth by the Magistrate Judge are
ADOPTED in its entirety.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Donald C. Nugent
DONALD C. NUGENT
United States District Judge
DATED: September 27, 2017
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