Smith v. Commissioner of Social Security
Memorandum of Opinion and Order For the reasons stated in the Order, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's 17 Report and Recommendation and affirms the decision of the Administrative Law Judge. Signed by Judge Dan Aaron Polster on 9/25/2017. (K,K)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
ERIC D. SMITH,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Comm’r
of Social Security,
Case No. 5: 16-cv-02466
Judge Dan Aaron Polster
MEMORANDUM OF OPINION
Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Jonathan D.
Greenberg (“R&R”) (Doc #: 17). Magistrate Judge Greenberg recommends that the Court affirm
the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) denying Plaintiff Eric D. Smith’s
applications for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(I), 423,
1381 (“the Act”). Plaintiff has filed Objections to the R&R (Doc # 18), and Defendant, the
Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”), has filed a
Response to Plaintiff's Objections (Doc. # 19). Plaintiff’s objections are the same as the
arguments made to the Magistrate Judge. The R&R correctly addresses the objections and the
Court finds the objections to be without merit. The Court ADOPTS the R&R.
In September 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, and the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denied his applications initially and upon reconsideration. After
Plaintiff's application was denied, he requested a hearing before an ALJ. The hearing took place
on August 18, 2015 and featured testimony from Plaintiff, represented by counsel, and a
vocational expert. On August 31, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying the Plaintiff benefits.
Plaintiff filed a request for review of the ALJ’s decision, but the Appeals Council denied his
request. Plaintiff then filed the instant action on October 7, 2016, seeking review of the ALJ's
On August 10, 2017, Magistrate Judge Greenberg issued an R&R in which he
recommended that the Court affirm the ALJ's decision and dismiss Plaintiff's case with prejudice.
Plaintiff filed objections on August 24, 2017, setting forth three objections to the R&R: 1) the
ALJ discounted Consultative Examiner Comley’s opinion without giving adequate reason for
doing so; 2) the ALJ did not consider that the state agency reviewers did not have a complete
record when weighing their opinion and; 3) the ALJ did not adequately consider Plaintiff’s
subjective claims because the ALJ did not provide significant reasons as to why Plaintiff’s
statements were not credible. These same objections were previously argued in Plaintiff’s Brief
of the Merits (Doc. #13) to Magistrate Judge Greenberg.
First, the ALJ properly weighed Dr. Comley’s opinion and substantial evidence
supports his decision to afford it “some weight.” For example, Dr. Comley’s opinion was not
based on a clinical assessment established over a period of time; Plaintiff’s treatment notes
support the ALJ’s conclusion that Plaintiff’s impairments were not as severe as Dr. Comley
opined; and Plaintiff reported improvements with medication and continued therapy. Second,
while the state agency reviewers did not have the benefit of Plaintiff’s counseling records, the
ALJ did and he discussed them at length. Lastly, the ALJ asserted several reasons for
discounting Plaintiff’s subjective reports of his impairments including, among others, his
responsiveness to therapy and medications and his statements to his counselor that he had been
going out in public more. For these reasons, Magistrate Judge Greenberg’s R&R correctly
addresses Plaintiff’s objections and the Court finds Plaintiff’s objections to be without merit.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/Dan Aaron Polster September 25, 2017
Dan Aaron Polster
United States District Judge
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