United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
MICHAEL R. BARRETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court upon the Magistrate Judge's
February 20, 2018 Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”), which recommends that the decision
of the Defendant Commissioner be affirmed and this matter be
closed on the docket of the Court. (Doc. 16).
was given to the parties under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C)
and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) (Doc. 16, PageID1198). Plaintiff
Walther timely filed objections to the R&R on March 6,
2018. (Doc. 17). The Defendant Commissioner did not respond
to the objections, despite an opportunity to do so. This
matter is now ripe for review.
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).
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
who has no work history, filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) due to alleged mental and physical
impairments. Finding that Plaintiff retains residual
functioning capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full
range of work, with certain limitations, the ALJ denied her
claim. The Magistrate Judge provided a comprehensive summary
of the administrative record and the same will not be
repeated here except to the extent necessary to address
asks that this Court “carefully review the arguments
set forth in Plaintiff's Statement of Specific Errors
[Doc. 10] in addition to the arguments presented
herein.” (Doc. 17; PageID# 1141). It is not clear
whether Plaintiff is attempting to incorporate by reference
all previously asserted grounds for reversal in her
objections. Regardless, the Court will only consider
Plaintiff's specific objections to the R&R.
Renchen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 1:13-cv-752,
2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29910, at *3-4 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 11,
2015) (“Merely restating arguments previously
presented, stating a disagreement with a magistrate
judge's suggested resolution, or simply summarizing what
has been presented before is not a specific objection that
alerts the district court to the alleged errors on the part
of the magistrate judge.”).
raises one specific objection to the R&R: “the ALJ
failed to properly evaluate the mental health opinions
provided by the treating source doctors, ” Dr. Andrew
Smith (treating psychologist) and Dr. Rina Mina (treating
rheumatologist). (Doc. 17; PageID 1140).
Magistrate Judge correctly observed that, in evaluating
opinion evidence, “[t]he ALJ ‘must' give a
treating source opinion controlling weight if the treating
source opinion is ‘well-supported by medically
acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques'
and is ‘not inconsistent with the other substantial
evidence in [the] case 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). If the ALJ does not accord
controlling weight to a treating physician, the ALJ must
still determine how much weight is appropriate by considering
a number of factors, including the length of the treatment
relationship and the frequency of examination, the nature and
extent of the treatment relationship, supportability of the
opinion, consistency of the opinion with the record as a
whole, and any specialization of the treating physician.
Wilson, 378 F.3d at 544; see also 20 C.F.R.
an ALJ must “always give good reasons in [the
ALJ's] notice of determination or decision for the weight
[the ALJ] give[s] [the claimant's] treating source's
opinion.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2); but see
Tilley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 09-6081, 2010 WL
3521928, at *6 (6th Cir.Aug.31, 2010) (indicating that, under
Blakely and the good reason rule, an ALJ is not
required to explicitly address all of the six factors within
20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2) for weighing medical opinion
evidence within the written decision).
recommending that the Commission's decision be affirmed,
the Magistrate Judge cited multiple “good
reasons” for discounting the opinions of the treating
sources, which were first noted by the ALJ. In her
objections, Plaintiff takes issue with the three “good
reasons” offered: (1) the medical source statement
“skewed the meaning of mild and moderate as those terms
are defined by Social Security regulations”; (2) Dr.
Smith's opinion was inconsistent with the
“conservative nature of Ms. Walther's mental health
treatment”; and (3) Dr. Smith opined that
Plaintiff's limitations “existed since September
30, 2009, even though [he] began treatment with Ms. Walther
in March of 2013.” (Doc. 17; PageID 1141-42). Plaintiff
asserts that the foregoing “good reasons” offered
by the ALJ do not satisfy the procedural requirements
necessary for discrediting the opinions of a treating source
doctor. (Doc. 17: PageID# 1141). The Court disagrees.
Plaintiff challenges the ALJ's conclusion that Dr. Smith
skewed the meanings of “mild and moderate as those
terms are defined by Social Security regulations.”
(Id.) By way of additional background, it appears
that Dr. Smith completed an “attorney-generated
questionnaire regarding [Plaintiff's] abilities to work
from a mental standpoint.” (Doc. 8-2; PageID# 55). The
ALJ observed that counsel “skewed” the