United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
THOMAS H. HOFFMAN, PLAINTIFF,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.
HONORABLE SARA LIOI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Amended Report and Recommendation (Doc. No.
17 (“R&R”)) of Magistrate Judge George J.
Limbert with respect to plaintiff's complaint for
judicial review of defendant's denial of his application
for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Insurance Income (“SSI”). Plaintiff
filed objections to the R&R (Doc. No. 18
(“Obj.”)) and defendant filed a response to the
objections (Doc. No. 19 (“Resp.”)). Upon de
novo review and for the reasons set forth below, the
Court hereby overrules plaintiff's objections, accepts
the R&R, and dismisses this case.
filed his applications for DIB and SSI on October 31, 2013.
(Doc. No. 12 (Transcript [“Tr.”]) 255-63;
264-69.) He alleged disability beginning March 31,
2009 (for DIB) and October 4, 2013 (for SSI) due to issues
with walking because of hip replacement surgery and the
inability to walk, stand, or sit for any length of time.
(Id. 294.) The applications were denied initially
(id. 196-209), and upon reconsideration
(id. 212-23). Plaintiff requested a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
(Id. 226-28.) The hearing, at which plaintiff
appeared (represented by counsel), was conducted on February
10, 2016. The hearing transcript is in the record.
(Id. 108-47.) On March 10, 2016, the ALJ issued her
decision, determining that plaintiff was not disabled under
the relevant statutes. (Id. 90-103.)
timely filed the instant action, seeking judicial review.
Plaintiff, represented by counsel, filed a statement of
errors with supporting memorandum (Doc. No. 13 (“Pl.
Br.”)), and defendant filed a response brief on the
merits (Doc. No. 14 (“Def. Br.”)).
5, 2018, Magistrate Judge Limbert issued his R&R,
recommending that defendant's decision be affirmed
because it applied the appropriate legal standards and was
supported by substantial evidence.
Standard of Review
Court's review of the Magistrate Judge's R&R is
governed by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), which requires a de novo
decision as to those portions of the R&R to which
objection is made. “An ‘objection' that does
nothing more than state a disagreement with a
magistrate's suggested resolution, or simply summarizes
what has been presented before, is not an
‘objection' as that term is used in this
context.” Aldrich v. Bock, 327 F.Supp.2d 743,
747 (E.D. Mich. 2004). See also Fed. R. Civ. P.
72(b)(3) (“[t]he district judge must determine de novo
any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has
been properly objected to”); Local Rule 72.3(b) (any
objecting party shall file “written objections which
shall specifically identify the portions of the proposed
findings, recommendations, or report to which objection is
made and the basis for such objections”).
review is limited to a determination of whether the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and whether there is
“substantial evidence” in the record as a whole
to support the decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Longworth v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 402 F.3d
591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005). “Substantial evidence is
defined as ‘more than a scintilla of evidence but less
than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25
F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994)). If there is substantial
evidence to support the defendant's decision, it must be
affirmed even if the reviewing court might have resolved any
issues of fact differently and even if the record could also
support a decision in plaintiff's favor. Crisp v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 790 F.2d 450,
453 n.4 (6th Cir. 1986); Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d
762, 772 (6th Cir. 2001) (“The findings of the
Commissioner are not subject to reversal merely because there
exists in the record substantial evidence to support a
different conclusion.”) (citations omitted).
raises a single objection to the R&R. He asserts that the
R&R commits reversible error by concluding that the ALJ
attributed the appropriate weight to the three treating
source opinions of Dr. Louis Keppler. Plaintiff argues that
the inconsistency and lack of support in the doctor's
treatment records that was pointed out by the ALJ, and
accepted by the R&R, are “trivial” because
“the longstanding clinical relationship between Dr.
Keppler and the Plaintiff allowed Dr. Keppler to bring to
bear a level of knowledge not exhaustively detailed in his
treatment records.” (Obj. at 658.) Plaintiff argues
that the ALJ and the R&R should have fully credited Dr.
Keppler's conclusion that plaintiff “is unable to
sustain a full eight hour workday[, ]” (id.),
and is, therefore, disabled.
treating physician rule requires the ALJ to assign a treating
physician's opinion controlling weight if it is
‘well-supported by medically acceptable clinic and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with
the other substantial evidence in [the claimant's] case
record.'” Perry v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., No. 17-4182, 2018 WL 2470915, at *3 (6th Cir. June
4, 2018) (quoting 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2))
(alteration in original) (further citation omitted). If the
ALJ does not assign controlling weight to a treating source
opinion, he or she must give “good reasons” for
discounting the opinion. Biestek v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 880 F.3d 778, 785 (6th Cir. 2017) (cited by
Perry). These reasons must be “sufficiently
specific to make clear to any subsequent reviewers the weight
given to the treating physician's opinion and the reasons
for that weight.” Austin v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 714 Fed.Appx. 569, 573 (6th Cir. 2018) (citation
addition, only medical opinions must be given
controlling weight, not the treating source's opinion
that one is “totally unable to work.” Andres
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 17-4070, 2018 WL
2017281, at *2 (6th Cir. Apr. 30, 2018); 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(a)(1) (“Medical opinions are statements from
acceptable medical sources that reflect judgments about the
nature and severity of your impairment(s) . . . .”); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(1) (“We are responsible for
making the determination or decision about whether you meet
the statutory definition of disability. . . . ...