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Walp v. Saul

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio

August 14, 2019

Robert W. Walp, Plaintiff,
Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security[1] Defendants.

          George J. Limbert, Magistrate Judge



         This matter is before the Court on the Objections of Plaintiff Robert W. Walp (“Plaintiff” or “Walp”) to the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge George J. Limbert regarding Plaintiff's request for judicial review of Defendant Commissioner of the Social Security Administration's (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) denial of his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. (Doc. No. 17.) For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Objections are overruled, the Report & Recommendation (“R&R”) is accepted, and the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

         I. Background

         In October 2014, Plaintiff filed his applications for DIB and SSI, alleging a disability onset date of June 30, 2014. (Doc. No. 10 (Transcript [“Tr.”]) at 11.) The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). (Id.) On May 17, 2017, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified. (Id.) A vocational expert (“VE”) also testified. (Id.) On June 16, 2017, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 11-26.) The Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision, and the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision. Plaintiff seeks judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c). (Doc. No. 1.)

         The case was referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Rule 72.2(b)(1) for a Report and Recommendation. The R & R concludes that the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence and recommends that the decision be affirmed. (Doc. No. 16.)

         Plaintiff raises one objection to the R & R, i.e., that the Magistrate Judge failed to “reconcile [a] logical inconsistency” between the ALJ's finding of marked limitations in the area of interacting with others in his analysis of Listing 12.08, and moderate limitations in this area in his Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) analysis. (Doc. No. 17.) The Court has conducted a de novo review of the issues raised in Plaintiff's Objections.

         II. Analysis

         A. Standard of Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), “[a] judge of 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)(C); see Powell v. United States, 37 F.3d 1499 (Table), 1994 WL 532926 at *1 (6th Cir. Sept. 30, 1994) (“Any report and recommendation by a magistrate judge that is dispositive of a claim or defense of a party shall be subject to de novo review by the district court in light of specific objections filed by any party.”) (citations omitted); Orr v. Kelly, 2015 WL 5316216 at *2 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 11, 2015) (citing Powell, 1994 WL 532926 at *1). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). “A judge of 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).

         Under the Social Security Act, a disability renders the claimant unable to engage in substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can result in death or that can last at least twelve months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505(a). The impairment must prevent the claimant from doing the claimant's previous work, as well as any other work which exists in significant numbers in the region where the individual lives or in several regions of the country. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A). Consideration of disability claims follows a five-step review process.[2] 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520.

         The Court's review of the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits is limited to determining whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence is ‘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.'” McGlothin v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 299 Fed.Appx. 516, 521 (6th Cir. 2008) (quoting Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (internal citation omitted)).

         If substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's finding that the claimant is not disabled, that finding must be affirmed even if the reviewing court would decide the matter differently. Cutlip v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994) (citation omitted). A reviewing court is not permitted to resolve conflicts in evidence or to decide questions of credibility. Bass v. McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509 (6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). Moreover, the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed even if substantial evidence also exists in the record to support a finding of disability. Felisky v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027, 1035 (6th Cir. 1994) (citing Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986)).

         B. Plaintiff's Objection to ...

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