United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
HONORABLE SARA LIOI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is the Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) of Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Parker
(Doc. No. 17) with respect to plaintiff's complaint for
judicial review of defendant's denial of her application
for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under
42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423, 1381, et seq.
(the “Act”). 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 her application for DIB on October 27, 2015. (Doc. No.
11 (Transcript [“Tr.”]) 273-76.) The application
was denied initially (id. 174-82), and upon
reconsideration (id. 185-91). Plaintiff requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). (Id. 192-93.) The hearing, at
which plaintiff appeared (represented by counsel), was
conducted on December 21, 2016. The hearing transcript is in
the record. (Id. 102-38.) On February 1, 2017, the
ALJ issued his decision, determining that plaintiff was not
disabled under the Act. (Id. 78-96.)
timely filed the instant action under 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review. Plaintiff,
represented by counsel, filed a brief on the merits (Doc. No.
13 (“Pl. Br.”)), and defendant filed a response
brief on the merits (Doc. No. 16 (“Def. Br.”)).
11, 2018, Magistrate Judge Parker issued his R&R,
recommending that defendant's decision be affirmed
because the ALJ's finding that plaintiff's mental
impairment does not satisfy the paragraph B and C criteria of
Listing 12.04 was supported by substantial evidence. (Doc.
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).
raised a single challenge in her brief on the merits, namely,
that the ALJ erred in concluding that her conditions did not
meet or medically equal the criteria of Listing 12.04. The
R&R meticulously set forth the relevant record evidence
upon which the ALJ's factual findings were based (R&R
at 786-801), and concluded that this constituted
“substantial evidence” for denying
plaintiff's DIB application.
objections, plaintiff argues that the R&R “did not
fully evaluate equivalency to Listing 12.04.” (Obj. at
814.) In particular, plaintiff asserts that, based upon the
findings of Pamela Pardon, a mental health nurse,
plaintiff satisfies the “B” criteria of Listing
12.04 because plaintiff has “marked limitations in
interacting and relating to others, and in attending to and
completing tasks.” (Obj. at 816.). Plaintiff made
the same argument in her brief on the merits. But, as pointed
out by the R&R, Nurse Pardon's assessment was
accorded only partial weight by the ALJ, who recognized that
she was not considered an “acceptable medical
source.” (R&R at 808.) Nonetheless, the ALJ
addressed Nurse Pardon's assessments in considerable
detail in light of the other record evidence (see
Tr. 91-92), and expressly stated that her “opinion has
been fully considered, . . . in order to gain further insight
into the severity of the [plaintiff's] limitations
pursuant to SSR 06-03p.” (Id. 92.)
within the ALJ's “discretion to determine the
proper weight to accord opinions from ‘other
sources' such as nurse practitioners.” Cruse v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 502 F.3d 532, 541 (6th Cir.
2007) (also explaining that, with the growth of managed care
and its focus on containing costs, “medical sources who
are not ‘acceptable medical sources,' such as nurse
practitioners . . . have increasingly assumed a greater