United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
MICHAEL R. BARRETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge's Report
and Recommendation (“Report”) and Plaintiff Jana
Joyner's corresponding Objections to the Magistrate
Judge's Report. (Docs. 9, 10). This action is a Social
Security appeal brought under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The
Magistrate Judge recommended that the ALJ's finding of
non-disability be affirmed because it is supported by
substantial evidence in the administrative record.
was given to the parties under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(c).
Plaintiff filed objections (Doc. 10) to the Magistrate
Judge's Report. The Commissioner filed a Reply (Doc. 11)
to the Objections.
Magistrate Judge provided a comprehensive summary of the
record and the same will not be repeated here except to the
extent necessary to address Plaintiff's objections.
Plaintiff's objections essentially repeat the arguments
made in her Statement of Errors, asserting that the ALJ: (1)
failed to give controlling weight to Plaintiff's treating
physicians; (2) improperly evaluated Plaintiff's mental
impairments; (3) improperly evaluated Plaintiff's
credibility; and (4) posed a hypothetical question to the
Vocational Expert (VE) that provided an incomplete
description Plaintiff's impairments. (Doc. 9).
objections to a magistrate judge's report are received on
a dispositive matter, the assigned 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
decision; receive further evidence; or return the matter to
the magistrate judge with instructions.” Id. See
also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Evaluation of opinion evidence
Smail concluded that Plaintiff was disabled/unemployable.
(Doc. 4, at 17). Paintiff argues that under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1528(c)(2), the findings of Dr. Smail are “reliable
indicators” of pain and significant limitations. (Doc.
10; PageID 620). However, the ALJ discounted Dr. Smail's
argues that the ALJ failed to give Dr. Smail's opinion
the controlling weight it was due under 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527. However, Dr. Smail was not accorded controlling
weight because Dr. Smail's opinion was not supported by
the overall medical record. Blakley v. Commissioner of
Social Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 406 (6th Cir.2009) (quoting
Wilson v. Commissioner, 378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th
Cir.2004). Specifically, Plaintiff's other physicians did
not communicate in their evaluations that Plaintiff was
disabled or that she had such restrictive work related
limitations. (Doc. 9; PageID 608). In one physician's
evaluation, Dr. Swedberg noted that Plaintiff was comfortable
while sitting, and had “normal range of motion in the
cervical spine, and only mildly decreased range of motion in
the lumbosacral spine.” (Doc. 4, at 319-25).
testing and examinations also revealed that Plaintiff had
mostly mild to moderate abnormalities, and that Plaintiff
possessed normal range of spinal motion, as well as normal
gait. Id. Furthermore, as reflected in Dr.
Smail's report, Plaintiff's prognosis for her back
pain, degenerative disc disease, and radiculopathy was
“good, [physical therapy] and testing pending.”
(Doc. 4, at 498). Dr. Smail gave no indication that Plaintiff
experienced abnormal gait, sensory loss, reflex changes,
swelling, muscle spasms, or muscle atrophy. (Doc. 4, at 499).
the ALJ in the instant case offered good reason to not give
Dr. Smail's opinions controlling weight. (Doc. 4, at 17).
The limitations offered by Dr. Smail did not comport with the
modest level of treatment Plaintiff received for her medical
complaints. Id. Ultimately, inconsistency with the
overall medical record permits the ALJ to discount the
opinion of a treating source. Therefore, in reaching his
conclusion, the ALJ properly weighed the opinions of the
Evaluation of mental impairments
objects to the ALJ's evaluation of her mental
impairments. (Doc. 9; PageID 609-610). Plaintiff argues that
the ALJ's assessment, which limited Plaintiff to
“unskilled, simple, repetitive tasks, ” failed to
properly encompass her mental limitations. (Id. at
609). While Plaintiff alleged that her disability is
attributable to her depression, she provided no evidence of
any mental health treatment. (Doc. 4, at 18). Although
Plaintiff's physicians contend that her depressive
symptoms may cause her to have difficulty handling complex
work assignments, Plaintiff ...