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Vaughan v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

March 28, 2018

Justin Vaughan, Plaintiff
v.
Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.

          Chelsey Vascura Magistrate Judge

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael H. Watson Judge

         On May 31, 2017, Magistrate Judge Kemp, to whom this matter was initially referred, [1] issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), ECF No. 27, recommending that this action be remanded to the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") for further proceedings pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), sentence four. Defendant, the Commissioner, filed objections to that R&R, and Plaintiff responded to Defendant's objections. ECF Nos. 28, 30. For the reasons that follow, the Court OVERRULES Defendant's objections, ECF No. 28, ADOPTS the R&R, ECF No. 27, and REMANDS this action to the ALJ for further proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff applied for benefits on January 18, 2013, alleging that he became disabled on October 26, 2012, at the age of thirty six. After Plaintiffs initial application was denied, an ALJ held a hearing on Plaintiffs application. The ALJ subsequently issued a written determination denying Plaintiff benefits on March 27, 2015, and that determination became final when the Appeals Council denied review on April 21, 2016. Plaintiff then sought judicial review of the Commissioner's determination pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When a party objects to an R&R within the allotted time, the Court "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). Upon review, the Court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

It is well settled that, when objecting to an R&R, a party must make "specific written objections" to the magistrate judge's proposed findings and recommendations. Fed R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). A general statement that the magistrate judge erred does not aid judicial efficiency, the purpose "for which the use of magistrates [was] authorized." Howard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991); see also Holl v. Potter, No. C-1-09-618, 2011 WL 4337038, at*1 (S.D. Ohio Sept. 15, 2011), affd, 506 Fed.Appx. 438 (2012) ("Objections that merely restate arguments raised in the memoranda considered by the Magistrate Judge are not proper, and the Court may consider such repetitive arguments waived.").

         III. ANALSYIS

         A. Listing 1.04 The Magistrate Judge recommended remanding this case because the ALJ failed to consider whether Plaintiffs impairments met or equaled Listing 1.04, Disorders of the Spine. That listing provides, in relevant part:

Disorders of the spine (e.g., herniated nucleus pulposus, spinal arachnoiditis, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, vertebral fracture), resulting in compromise of a nerve root (including the cauda equina) or the spinal cord. With:
A. Evidence of nerve root compression characterized by neuro-anatomic distribution of pain, limitation of motion of the spine, motor loss (atrophy with associated muscle weakness or muscle weakness) accompanied by sensory or reflex loss and, if there is involvement of the lower back, positive straight-leg raising test (sitting and supine)....

Part 404, Subpart P, app. 1, Section 1.04(A) (2015).

         The ALJ found that Plaintiff had several severe impairments, including "degenerative disease of the lumbar spine, status post lumbar laminectomies, " but that none of Plaintiffs impairments, singly or in combination, "met or equal[ed] the requirements set forth ...


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