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Leflouria v. Berryhill

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

March 1, 2018

CURTIS LEFLOURIA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, DEFENDANT.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          HONORABLE SARA LIOI, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge George J. Limbert (Doc. No. 20 [“R&R”]) with respect to the request of plaintiff Curtis LeFlouria (“LeFlouria”) for judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq. The R&R recommends that the Commissioner's final decision be affirmed. Plaintiff filed a single objection to the R&R (Doc. No. 21 [“Obj.”]) and the Commissioner filed a response (Doc. No. 22 [“Resp.”]). Upon de novo review and for the reasons set forth below, the Court hereby overrules LeFlouria's objection and accepts the R&R. The Commissioner's final decision is affirmed, and this case is dismissed and closed.

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On March 24, 2014, LeFlouria protectively filed an application for DIB. (Doc. No. 12, Transcript [“TR”] 200.)[1] His alleged disability onset date was January 22, 2011, and his insured status expired on December 31, 2011.[2] (Id. 81, 216.) The application was denied (id. 143-46) and LeFlouria requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) (id. 147-48).

         On September 16, 2015, the ALJ conducted a hearing, where LeFlouria appeared and testified, represented by counsel. An impartial vocational expert (“VE”) also testified. (Id. 93-132.) On October 6, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision denying LeFlouria's claim. (Id. 76-88.) On September 23, 2016, the Appeals Council declined further review, rendering the ALJ's decision final. (Id. 69-71.)

         On January 23, 2017, LeFlouria filed this lawsuit. In his brief on the merits, LeFlouria presented two issues for review:

(1) Whether the ALJ's physical RFC finding is supported by substantial evidence.
(2) Whether the ALJ should have called a medical expert or ordered a consultative examination given the fact there were no medical opinions of record.

(Pl. Br. on Merits [Doc. No. 15] at 1582.)

         The R&R concluded that there was no error and the Commissioner's decision denying DIB should be affirmed. Gamble objects to the R&R's conclusion with respect to the second issue.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         This Court's review of the Magistrate Judge's R&R is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), which requires a de novo decision as to those portions of the R&R to which objection is made. Judicial review is limited to a determination of whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and whether there is “substantial evidence” in the record as a whole to support the decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Longworth v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance. Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). It is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Jones v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 336 F.3d 469, 475 (6th Cir. 2003) (quotation marks and citation omitted). If there is substantial evidence to support the defendant's decision, it must be affirmed even if the reviewing court might have resolved any issues of fact differently and even if the record could also support a decision in plaintiff's favor. Crisp v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790 F.2d 450, 453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986).

         III. DISCUSSION

         LeFlouria “specifically objects to the R&R's conclusion that [his] physical impairments are ‘fairly minor' such that the ALJ could make a commonsense judgment about [his] functional capacity without the aid of any medical opinions.” (Obj. at 1632 (citation omitted).) This objection ...


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