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Collins v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 11, 2018

THERESIA COLLINS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court upon Defendant's Objection (ECF DKT #22) to the Report and Recommendation Decision of the Magistrate Judge (ECF DKT #21), recommending that the Court vacate and remand the Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiff's Claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act. For the following reasons, the Court ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, VACATES the final decision of the Commissioner and REMANDS the matter for further proceedings pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), sentence four.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) on April 24, 2014 alleging a disability onset date of December 3, 2013. The application was denied administratively. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and appeared on March 9, 2016. At the hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational expert.

         The ALJ received medical evidence including, but not limited to: a written letter from Plaintiff's primary treating physician, medical reports and examinations by the State agency consulting physician. The assessments included a physical residual functional capacity questionnaire and physical residual functional capacity test. The state agency reviewing physicians also evaluated Plaintiff's condition and contradicted Plaintiff's treating physician's[1] determination. ECF DKT #21, at 3-5.

         Additionally, medical evidence was submitted from six of Plaintiff's treating physicians. On May 11, 2010, Dr. Tessman submitted a report entitled “Medical Evidence: EMG of Bilateral Upper Extremities.” On December 19, 2013, Dr. Umeda submitted a report. On February 27, 2013, Dr. Thorton submitted a report. On October 6, 2014, Dr. Soha submitted a report entitled “Physical Therapy Functional Capacity Evaluation.” On October 14, 2014, Dr. Lee submitted a report. On August 20, 2015, Dr. Syed submitted a report . On November 6, 2014, Dr. Kobaivanova submitted a report entitled, “Physical Residual Functional Capacity.” On April 13, 2015, Dr. Kobaivanova submitted a report and letter entitled “Medical Report/General.” On March 17, 2016, Dr. Kobaivanova submitted a report entitled “Physical RFC Assessment.” All of the medical evidence by treating physicians indicated an impairment or impairments that would render Plaintiff unable to perform her previous job. ECF DKT #21, at 2-7.

         On August 25, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Counsel denied further review on February 14, 2017, and the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision. On April 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Complaint challenging the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C 405 (g), 42 U.S.C 1383 (c)(3). The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation on March 30, 2018, recommending that the Court vacate and remand the Commissioner's decision for further proceedings on the Plaintiff's Claim for DIB, specifically for the ALJ to properly apply the treating physician rule and reevaluate Plaintiff's credibility.

         The ALJ analyzed Plaintiff's disability under the five step evaluation set forth in 20 C.F.R § 404.1520(a)(4) and 416.920(a)(4). At step four of the analysis, the ALJ considered the Plaintiff's residual function to perform light work defined in 20 C.F.R § 404.1567(b), which was limited to such that the Plaintiff can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; can frequently climb stairs, ramps and stoops; is limited to frequent bilateral handling and fingering; and could perform past relevant work as a computer electronic assembler as classified by the DOT. At step five, considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, residual functional capacity and job availability within the economy, the ALJ found that there were a significant number of jobs that existed in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. The ALJ supported her findings with medical records, medical notes from February 29, 2016 by the Plaintiff's treating physician Dr. Kobaivanova, opinions from the state agency reviewing physicians Drs. Morton and Cacchillo, state agency consulting physician Dr. Bradford and vocational expert Dr. Marini. The ALJ gave little weight to the opinion of Plaintiff's primary treating physician, Dr. Kobaivanova.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         A. Civil Rule 72(b) Standard

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b) and 28 U.S.C § 626, the district court is required to review de novo any portion of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which a specific objection is made. Any party's failure to object in a timely manner to any aspect of the Report and Recommendation may waive the right to appeal. U.S v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 950 (6th Cir. 1981). The district judge is not required to review the Magistrate Judge's factual or legal conclusions that are not objected to by either party, either under the de novo standard or any other standard. Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).

         Local Rule 72.3 (b) states in pertinent part:

The District Judge to whom the case was assigned shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the Magistrate Judge. The District Judge need conduct a new hearing only in such District Judge's discretion or where required by law, and may consider the record developed before the Magistrate Judge, making a determination on the basis of the record. The District Judge may also receive further evidence, recall witnesses or commit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions.

         B. Standard of Review for Administrative ...


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