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Watson v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

March 29, 2018

Candie L. Watson, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          Vascura, Magistrate Judge.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MICHAEL H. WATSON, JUDGE.

         On February 6, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") recommending that the Court overrule Plaintiffs Statement of Errors and affirm the Commissioner's decision. R&R, ECF No. 21. Plaintiff objected to the R&R, and the Commissioner responded. ECF Nos. 22 and 25. For the following reasons, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiffs objections, AFFIRMS and ADOPTS the R&R, and DISMISSES Plaintiffs Complaint.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff protectively filed for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, Period of Disability benefits, and Supplemental Security Income benefits on July 9, 2013, alleging that she had been disabled since May 20, 2013. ALJ Decision, ECF No. 11-2, at PAGEID # 856. After her initial applications were denied, Plaintiff went before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Jason Earnhart for a hearing. Id. On September 17, 2015, the ALJ issued an opinion denying Plaintiff benefits. Id. at PAGEID ## 856-76. Following the Appeals Council's denial of her request for review, the ALJ's opinion became final on August 9, 2016. Appeals Council Decision, ECF No. 11-2, at PAGEID # 840.

         Plaintiff subsequently filed a timely Complaint for review in this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Magistrate Judge analyzed Plaintiffs Statement of Errors and recommended the Court affirm the Commissioner's decision. Plaintiff objected to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation.

         Neither party objects to the Magistrate Judge's summary of the facts as set forth in her R&R. R&R 1-16, ECF No. 21. The Court consequently adopts the fact summary and repeats only those facts relevant to the resolution of Plaintiff's objections.

         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), aff'd, 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.").

         Furthermore, in Social Security cases, the Court's review "is limited to determining whether the Commissioner's decision 'is supported by substantial evidence and was made pursuant to the proper legal standards.'" Ealy v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 594 F.3d 504, 512 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007)). In this context, "[substantial evidence is defined as 'more than a scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance ....'" Rogers, 486 F.3d at 421 (quoting Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)). Put another way, "[substantial evidence exists when 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) (quoting Kirk v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 667 F.2d 524, 535 (6th Cir. 1997)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Plaintiff raises three objections to the Magistrate Judge's R&R. First, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ's mental residual functional capacity ("MRFC") was not supported by substantial evidence. Next, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred when he failed to include a limitation for Plaintiffs migraines in his residual functional capacity ("RFC") determination. Finally, Plaintiff maintains that the ALJ did not provide "good reasons" for assigning little weight to Plaintiffs treating physician, Dr. Zimmerer. The Court will address each objection in turn.

         A. The ALJ's ...


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