United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
MICHAEL R. BARRETT, JUDGE
matter is before the Court upon the Magistrate Judge's
November 3, 2016, Report and Recommendation
("R&R") which recommends that the decision of
the Commissioner be affirmed and this matter be closed on the
docket of the Court. (Doc. 22).
was given to the parties under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c).
Plaintiff filed objections to the Magistrate Judge's
R&R. (Doc. 23).
objections are received to a magistrate judge's report
and recommendation on a dispositive matter, the district
judge “must determine de novo any part of the
magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly
objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). After review, the
district judge “may accept, reject, or modify the
recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or return
the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.”
Id.; see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Magistrate Judge completed a comprehensive review of the
record and the same will not be repeated here except as
necessary to respond to Plaintiff's objections.
argues that the ALJ erred by assigning limited weight to the
opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Murthy.
The Magistrate Judge addressed this same argument in great
detail and the Court finds no error in the Magistrate
Judge's conclusion that the ALJ properly interpreted Dr.
Sixth Circuit has explained:
In assessing the medical evidence supplied in support of a
claim, there are certain governing standards to which an ALJ
must adhere. Key among these is that greater deference is
generally given to the opinions of treating physicians than
to those of non-treating physicians, commonly known as the
treating physician rule. See Soc. Sec. Rul. 96-2p,
1996 WL 374188 (July 2, 1996); Wilson v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004). Because
treating physicians are “the medical professionals most
able to provide a detailed, longitudinal picture of [a
claimant's] medical impairment(s) and may bring a unique
perspective to the medical evidence that cannot be obtained
from the objective medical findings alone, ” their
opinions are generally accorded more weight than those of
non-treating physicians. 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(d)(2).
Therefore, if the opinion of the treating physician as to the
nature and severity of a claimant's conditions is
“well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with
other substantial evidence in [the] case record, ” then
it will be accorded controlling weight. Wilson, 378
F.3d at 544. When the treating physician's opinion is not
controlling, the ALJ, in determining how much weight is
appropriate, must consider a host of factors, including the
length, frequency, nature, and extent of the treatment
relationship; the supportability and consistency of the
physician's conclusions; the specialization of the
physician; and any other relevant factors. Id.
Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 242
(6th Cir. 2007) (footnote omitted).
the ALJ found that Dr. Murthy's opinion was not
well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and was inconsistent with
other substantial evidence in the record. The ALJ made this
finding, in part, because Dr. Murthy only saw Plaintiff one
time before her date last insured (“DLI”). (Tr.
37). There was only one progress note that predated
Plaintiff's DLI and that note did not support the
work-related limitations contained in Dr. Murthy's
opinion. (Id.). Of significance, Dr. Murthy did not
state the limitations were in effect prior to Plaintiff's
DLI. To obtain disability benefits, Plaintiff must establish
that the “onset of disability” was prior to the
date his insurance status expired, or the DLI. 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(a), (c), (d)(1)(A); See Smilh v. Comm
'r of Soc. Sec., 202 F.3d 270 (6th Cir.1999) (citing
Moon v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1175, 1182 (6th Cir.
1990); Higgs v. Bowen, 880 F.2d 860, 862 (6th Cir.
takes issue with the ALJ's finding that Dr. Murthy's
treatment notes are brief and do not support the limitations
he gives. Plaintiff specifically argues the second
questionnaire completed by Dr. Murthy-over a year later-is
entirely consistent with the first questionnaire. The ALJ,
however, properly noted that Dr. Murthy's September 2013
opinion also failed to indicate whether the limitations were
present before Plaintiff's DLI. Indeed, whether the
limitations were in effect prior to the DLI was a question on
the form, but was not answered by Dr. Murthy. (Tr. 37).
also discounted Dr. Murthy's opinion because he did not
cite any support for his opinions. In response, Plaintiff
points the testimony of Dr. Rogers who averred that “no
mental health person writes down everything they hear.”
(Tr. 96). While this is most certainly accurate, the brief
notes Dr. Murthy did choose to write down do not support the
limitations he recommends. For example, in June 2012, Dr.
Murthy noted that Plaintiff was “good with help of
meds.” (Tr. 513). In July 2012, Dr. Murthy noted that
Plaintiff's medications were helping and she did not have
any suicidal or homicidal thoughts. (Tr. 514). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's argument in this regard is unpersuasive.
Considering all of the above, the ALJ properly concluded that
Dr. Murthy's opinion was not entitled to controlling
in coming to the conclusion that Dr. Murthy's opinion
should be given “little weight, ” the ALJ
considered, among other things, the length and frequency of
Dr. Murthy's treatment relationship prior to
Plaintiff's DLI, as well as the consistency of Dr.
Murthy's opinion with the record as a whole. As the
Magistrate Judge explained, “[t]he ALJ is not bound by
conclusory statements of doctors, particularly where they are
unsupported by detailed objective criteria and
documentation.” See Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d
762, 773 (6th Cir. 2001). Upon review, the undersigned agrees
with the Magistrate Judge that the ALJ ...