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Sprague v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

August 26, 2019

Tammy S. Sprague, Plaintiff
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JEFFREY J. HELMICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Before me is the Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) of Magistrate Judge George J. Limbert. (Doc. No. 17). Judge Limbert recommends I affirm the final decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff Tammy Sprague's applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. (Id.). Sprague timely filed objections to the R & R, (Doc. No. 18), and the Commissioner filed a response, (Doc. No. 19).

         II. Background

         After reviewing the R & R, I hereby incorporate and adopt, in full, the “Factual and Procedural History” and “Relevant Medical and Testimonial Evidence” sections set forth in the R & R, as there were no objections to these sections by Sprague. (Doc. No. 17 at 1-10).

         III. Standard

         A district court must conduct a de novo review of “any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject or modify the recommended disposition, receive further evidence, or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).

         A general objection that does not “address specific concerns with the magistrate's report” will not suffice. Howard v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2) (“[A] party may serve and file specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations.”) (emphasis added). Allowing such general objections would frustrate the purpose of Magistrate Judges Act and “be an inefficient use of judicial resources.” Howard, 932 F.3d at 509.

         When reviewing those non-general objections, the district judge “must affirm the Commissioner's conclusions absent a determination that the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.” Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence is defined as ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir. 2001)). If the Commissioner's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, those findings are conclusive. McClanahan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 474 F.3d 830, 833 (6th Cir. 2006).

         IV. Discussion

         Sprague raises one objection to the R & R, alleging Judge Limbert erred in finding the ALJ had given “good reasons” for discounting the opinion of her treating psychiatrist, Subrata Roy, M.D. (Doc. No. 18). Upon initial review, this appears to be a general objection since Sprague fails to cite a specific error in the R & R. But after further consideration, Sprague's objection is to the ALJ's failure to consider all of the relevant treatment records when concluding “[t]he opinion of Dr. Roy was inconsistent with his own treating records.” (Doc. No. 11 at 32). In support, Sprague points to multiple treatment records where Dr. Roy documented Sprague's “anxious” mood, “guarded” affect, and “limited” insight and judgment. (Doc. No. 18 at 3).

         The August 31, 2016 opinion by Dr. Roy, which the ALJ found to be “inconsistent” with Dr. Roy's treating records, states in relevant part:

Since 2013 to present, Tamrae Sprague has been unable to complete an 8 hour work day on a sustained basis without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms.
Tamrae has need for redirection multiple times during an hour to stay on task due to deficits in attention and concentration. She would be off ...

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