United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
Preston Deavers, Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL H. WATSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
August 3, 2017, Magistrate Judge Deavers, to whom this matter
was referred, issued a Report and Recommendation
("R&R"), ECF No. 18, recommending that the
Court overrule Plaintiffs Statement of Specific Errors, in
which Plaintiff challenged the Commissioner of Social
Security's ("Defendant's") decision to deny
Plaintiffs application for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental social security income. Plaintiff objects to
that R&R. ECF No. 19. For the reasons that follow, the
Court OVERRULES Plaintiffs objections, ECF
No. 19, ADOPTS the R&R,
ECF No. 18, and DISMISSES
April 2012, Plaintiff applied for disability benefits and
supplemental security income, alleging that he had become
disabled on May 9, 2008. After that application was denied,
initially and on reconsideration, an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") held a hearing on Plaintiffs application in
September 2014. ECF No. 8-2, PAGEID ## 71-97. The ALJ
subsequently issued a written determination denying
Plaintiffs application on September 30, 2014. Id. at
PAGEID ## 51-62. In that September 30, 2014, determination,
the ALJ noted that Plaintiff had filed multiple prior
applications for benefits, most recently in July 2010.
Id. The July 2010 application had been denied on
February 21, 2012. The ALJ found no reason to reopen
Plaintiff's July 2010 application and considered it
preclusive through February 21, 2012. Id. With
respect to the unadjudicated period beginning February 22,
2012, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled within
the meaning of the Social Security Act. Id. That
determination became final when the Appeals Council denied
review in March 2016. Id. at PAGEID ## 40-42.
Plaintiff then sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The Magistrate Judge analyzed Plaintiffs
Statement of Specific Errors and recommended that the Court
overrule the same. Plaintiff objects to that recommendation.
party objects to the Magistrate Judge's summary of the
facts as set forth in her R&R. R&R 1-6, ECF No. 18.
The Court consequently adopts the fact summary and repeats
only those facts relevant to the resolution of Plaintiffs
STANDARD OF REVIEW
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. §
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.").
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)). Stated differently,
"[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)).
asserts that the Magistrate Judge incorrectly concluded that
the ALJ sufficiently explained the weight that he assigned to
an opinion from a nontreating examiner, Gabriel Sella, M.D.
Specifically, Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ erred by failing
to explain why he did not include in Plaintiffs RFC certain
restrictions that were in Dr. Sella's opinion (i.e., that
Plaintiff could walk only five to ten minutes at a time
several times a day). The Court finds that this objection
to 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(d) and 416.927(c), an ALJ
must "evaluate every medical opinion" received in
light of the nature of the examining relationship, the nature
of the treatment relationship, supportability, consistency,
specialization, and other factors. There is also a
presumptive sliding scale of deference to be given to various
types of opinions. An opinion from a treating physician is
"accorded the most deference" because of the
"ongoing treatment relationship" between the
patient and the opining physician. Smith v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec, 482 F.3d 873, 875 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotation marks omitted). A nontreating examiner, who
physically examines a patient "but does not have, or did
not have an ongoing treatment relationship with" the
patient, falls next along the continuum. Id. A
nonexaminer, who provides an opinion based solely on review
of the patient's existing medical records, is afforded
the least deference. Id. Nevertheless, this
hierarchy is not absolute. Any opinion, even that of a
treating source, may be rejected by an ALJ if the
source's opinion is not well supported by medical
diagnostics or if it is inconsistent with the record.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527, 416.927;
Eafy, 594 F.3d at 514. In addition, although an ALJ
can reject a treating source's opinion, he must explain
or give "good reasons" for doing so given that such
an opinion presumptively carries controlling weight. See
Smith, 482 F.3d at 876. On the other hand, there is no
"good-reason" requirement for opinions from
nontreating examiners and nonexaminers. Id.
Magistrate Judge noted, the ALJ indicated that he "fully
considered" Dr. Sella's August 2012 assessment, in
which Dr. Sella found that Plaintiff was "capable of
lifting/carrying moderate weight, sitting without
restriction, and standing/walking five to ten minutes at one
time several times a day." ECF No. 8-2, at PAGEID # 58.
The ALJ also found that to the extent the opinions from Dr.
Sella, another nontreating examiner, and two nonexaminers
showed that Plaintiffs ability to work was not grossly
restricted, and to the extent that each of these opinions was