United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
MARK R. KNECE, II, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Deavers Chief Magistrate Judge
ALGENON L. MARBLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on the Magistrate Judge's
July 12, 2019, Report and Recommendation
(ECF No. 28), which recommended that Plaintiff's
Statement of Errors (ECF No. 25) be
OVERRULED and that the Commissioner's
decision be AFFIRMED. Plaintiff, Mark Knece
III, filed his objection on July 6, 2018. (ECF No. 16). This
Court hereby ADOPTS the Report and
Recommendation in its entirety based on an independent
consideration of the analysis therein.
Mark R. Knece, II, filed an application for disability
insurance benefits on March 11, 2011, alleging that he has
been disabled since February 15, 2011. (R. at 779).
Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Id. Plaintiff then requested a
de novo hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). Id. Plaintiff, represented by
counsel, appeared and testified before ALJ Paul E. Yerian at
a hearing on June 18, 2012. (R. at 157, 169). ALJ Yerian
found Plaintiff was not “disabled” within the
meaning of the Social Security Act. (R. at 157-69). Plaintiff
filed an action for review in federal court. Knece v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec., No. 14-cv-353. On September 3,
2015, Magistrate Judge Deavers issued a report and
recommendation recommending that this case be remanded to the
ALJ to provide a more detailed explanation in weighing the
opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Donald
Fouts, D.O. (R. at 888-914; see also Knece v. Comm'r
Soc. Sec., No. 14-cv-353, (ECF No. 20); (ECF No. 21)
(adopting report and recommendation)).
remand, the ALJ held a hearing in November 2016, during which
Plaintiff testified while represented by counsel. The ALJ
issued a decision on January 24, 2017 finding that Plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security
Act (R. at 776-800). In his revised decision denying
Plaintiff benefits, the ALJ followed the required five-step
sequential analysis for disability-benefits claims.
Id. at 8; see C.F.R. §
416.920(a). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review and adopted ALJ Yerian's final
decision. (R. at 769-75).
then filed his Statement of Errors with this Court, alleging
that the ALJ failed to properly consider and give adequate
weight to the expert testimony of Dr. Fouts, because the ALJ
focused on Dr. Fouts's normal exam findings, and not the
abnormal findings. (ECF No. 25). On review, the Magistrate
Judge issued a Report and Recommendation addressing
Plaintiff's alleged errors and recommending that this
Court overrule the Statement of Errors and affirm the
ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 28).
timely filed his Objection to the Report and Recommendation
on July 26, 2019 and raised two objections. (ECF No. 29).
First, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge did not
address his argument that given the volume of records
(documenting over 60 appointments with several providers over
eight years), there would be some variance in what medical
providers observed and that expecting “every provider,
on every occasion, to note the same abnormal findings on exam
seems an extremely high standard.” Id. at p.
3. Second, Plaintiff argues that there was more evidence of
exam abnormalities than normal findings in the testimony of
Dr. Fouts and that the ALJ should have been required to
provide some explanation for why he ultimately found the
normal findings more persuasive. Id.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
objection to a magistrate judge's report and
recommendation, this Court must “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); see Fed. R.
Civ. P. 72(b). This de novo review, in turn, requires the
Court to “determine whether the record as a whole
contains substantial evidence to support the ALJ's
decision” and to “determine whether the ALJ
applied the correct legal criteria.” Inman v.
Astrue, 920 F.Supp.2d 861, 863 (S.D. Ohio 2013).
Substantial evidence means relevant evidence that “a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Ealy v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
594 F.3d 504, 512 (6th Cir. 2010) (quotation omitted).
Substantial evidence constitutes “more than a mere
scintilla, but only so much as would be required to prevent
judgment as a matter of law against the Commissioner if this
case were being tried to a jury.” Inman, 920
F.Supp.2d at 863 (citing Foster v. Bowen, 853 F.2d
483, 486 (6th Cir. 1988)).
LAW AND ANALYSIS
objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding that the ALJ
properly evaluated the opinions of treating source Dr. Fouts.
(ECF No. 29). A treating physician's opinion must be
“well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and…not inconsistent
with the other substantial evidence in [the claimant's]
case record” for the ALJ to give it controlling weight.
See 20 C.F.R. § 4196.927(c)(2); Blakely v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 581 F.3d 399, 408 (6th Cir.
2009). If the ALJ does not give the treating physician's
opinion controlling weight, then the ALJ determines the
opinion's weight by evaluating “the length of the
treatment relationship and the frequency of examination, the
nature and extent of the treatment relationship,
supportability of the opinion, consistency of the opinion
with the record as a whole, and the specialization of the
treating source.” Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544 (6th Cir. 2004). Also, the ALJ
must provide good, specific reasoning for the weight that
they give the treating doctor's opinion. See 20
C.F.R. § 416.927(c)(2); Friend v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec. 375 Fed.Appx. 543, 550 (6th Cir. 2010). An ALJ is
required to give a good reason for according less than
controlling weight to a plaintiff's treating physician
but is not required to explicitly address each of the six
factors outlined above. See Tilley v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 394 Fed.Appx. 216, 222 (6th Cir. 2010) (finding
that ALJ had given a good reason for giving little weight to
a treating physician's opinion, despite not addressing
all six factors for weighing medical opinions and noting that
addressing all six factors is not a requirement in the Sixth
first objection to the Magistrate Judge's order states
that the Magistrate Judge did not address his argument that
the ALJ failed to consider the fact that were would be some
variance between medical testimony given the volume of
records, which documented over 60 appointments with several
providers over eight years. (ECF No. 29 at p. 3). Second,
Plaintiff argues the ALJ should have been required to provide
some explanation for why he ultimately found the normal
medical findings more persuasive than the abnormal medical
two objections are without merit because the Magistrate Judge
specifically addressed both arguments in her opinion by
noting that the ALJ “assessed the entire record as a
whole and reasonably concluded that Dr. Fouts' opinion
was inconsistent with it. He was entitled to do so.”
(ECF No. 28 at p. 16). Magistrate Judge Deavers added that
the ALJ “noted several instances of the medical record