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Green v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

January 24, 2018

WARREN D. GREEN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN R. ADAMS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the objections filed by Plaintiff Warren D. Green (“Green”) to the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of the Magistrate Judge. This action was referred to the Magistrate Judge for an R&R on Green's Appeal of the Social Security Administration's decision to deny his claim for disability insurance benefits. Magistrate Judge Ruiz issued his R&R recommending that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed. Green has filed his objections to that decision and the Commissioner has replied in support of the R&R.

         For the reasons stated below, Green's objections are OVERRULED. The R&R is adopted in whole and the decision of the Commissioner is hereby AFFIRMED.

         I. Facts

         Neither party has identified an error in the factual and procedural history reflected in the R&R, which adequately sets forth that background. The Court will therefore adopt the history as written without reiterating those sections herein.

         II. Standard of Review

          District courts conduct de novo review of those portions of a magistrate judge's R&R to which specific objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). However, in social security cases, judicial review of a decision by the Commissioner is limited to determining whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence based upon the record as a whole. Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005). The substantial evidence standard is met if “a reasonable mind might accept the relevant evidence as adequate to support a conclusion.” Warner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 375 F.3d 387, 390 (6th Cir. 2004). If substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's decision, this Court will defer to that finding “even if there is substantial evidence in the record that would have supported an opposite conclusion.” Id.

         III. Green's Objections

         Green states three objections to the Magistrate's decision affirming the Commissioner's decision to deny his application for benefits. First, Green contends that the ALJ failed to build an accurate and logical bridge between the evidence cited and the ALJ's credibility determination and that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding no flaw in the ALJ's determination. Second, Green contends that the Magistrate Judge erred in concluding that the ALJ's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) determination was supported by substantial evidence. Third, Green contends that the Magistrate Judge incorrectly found that the ALJ's Step Five analysis was supported by substantial evidence. Green's objections to the R&R substantively restate his original assignments of error: (1) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate his neurofibromatosis and psychiatric impairments at step three of the substantial evaluation (restated in response to the R&R as an objection the Magistrate's finding that the ALJ's RFC determination was supported by substantial evidence); (2) the ALJ did not properly evaluate Green's credibility and (3) the ALJ failed to meet his burden at Step Five of the sequential evaluation. (Doc. #13). Although Green's objections to the R&R similarly restate the arguments made in his original merits brief, the Court will address each in turn.

         With regard to his first objection, concerning the ALJ's credibility determination, Green ignores the detailed discussion of his medical history with regard to his stated impairments, which was quoted extensively in the R&R. Green cites this court's decision in Fleischer v. Astrue, 774 F.Supp. 875, 877 (N.D. Ohio, March 1, 2011) in support of his contention that both the ALJ's decision and the R&R lack the necessary logical bridge between the evidence cited and the ultimate credibility findings. Contrary to Green's representations, the R&R directly addresses the connection between the ALJ's decision and the material in the record:

         The ALJ went on to address the credibility of these allegations as follows:

After careful consideration of the evidence, I find that the claimant's medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms; however, the claimant's statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not entirely credible for the reasons explained in this decision. * * * Relevant to the claimant alleged neurofibromatosis and degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, the claimant was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis on March 27, 2008 (2F/3), and x-ray examination dated January 15, 2015 indicated degenerative changes to the lumbar spine (13F/4). While these findings would be consistent with the claimant's allegations of mid-back to low-back pain (2A/6), “aching and throbbing” in nature and descending to his left calf (l5F/2), the record, when considered as a whole, is not supportive of the contention that the existence of this impairment would be preclusive of all types of work.
X-ray examination of the claimant's lumbar spine, dated January 15, 2015, indicated "minimal" degenerative changes (13F/4). Diagnostic imaging of the lumbar spine, dated December 18, 2014, indicated findings consistent with the claimant's history of neurofibromatosis, but no stenosis at any level of the lumbar spine, findings stable since 2012 (13F/15-16).
The claimant was assessed by a neurosurgeon on May 5, 2015 as a non-surgical candidate (15F/2) and his pain management treating source noted on August 3, 2015, that the claimant had no lesions ...

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