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Harbin v. Colvin

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

October 23, 2013

LEONARD T. HARBIN, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES R. SIMPSON III, Senior District Judge.

This matter is before the court for consideration of the objections of the claimant, Leonard T. Harbin, Sr., ("Harbin") to the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge that the court affirm the denial of Harbin's application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. For the reasons set forth herein, the court concludes that the magistrate judge's report should be accepted and adopted and the decision of the Commissioner to deny benefits be affirmed.

The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found that Harbin had the severe impairments of obstructive sleep apnea, sarcoidosis, cardiomyopathy status post pacemaker implantation, obesity, diabetes, and depression.

The ALJ concluded that the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the liste impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.

The ALJ found that despite his severe impairments, Harbin retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform sedentary work with the limitations that he be given a sit/stand option in 30-minute intervals, he could not climb, he could occasionally perform postural activities such as stooping and bending, and he was limited to a low stress setting without fast paced or productiontype work. (DN 10-2; ALJ Decision, p. 6). In reaching this conclusion, the ALJ discounted the extent to which Harbin's treating physician found he had extensive limitations necessitating a finding of disability. Noting his obligation to give controlling weight to the opinion of Harbin's treating physician unless that opinion was not supported by the evidence of record, the ALJ found that the treating physician's medical opinions were "not entirely consistent with the record as a whole, " and assigned her opinion "only some weight." (DN 10-2, p. 10). The ALJ discussed Harbin's medical records and the hearing testimony in detail in reaching this conclusion.

In his objections to the magistrate judge's report, Harbin revisits arguments concerning the RFC finding by the ALJ which were addressed by the magistrate judge. Harbin's only claim of error is in the ALJ's RFC analysis and conclusion.

The magistrate judge concluded that the ALJ's findings concerning Harbin's RFC was supported by substantial evidence. While finding that the ALJ made a number of misstatements or omissions, the magistrate judge correctly explained that these errors were harmless. The magistrate judge found that the ALJ properly detailed his reasons for discounting the opinion of Harbin's treating physician, noting substantial other evidence to support his finding that Harbin possessed the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work with various restrictions.

In evaluating the record as a whole, the ALJ was not required to comment specifically on each piece of evidence. Bailey v. Commissioner of Social Security, 413 Fed.Appx. 853, 855 (6th Cir. 2011). Additionally, state agency RFC assessments which Harbin notes were overlooked by the ALJ actually support a finding of a less restrictive RFC than that imposed by the ALJ. Thus, the court agrees with the conclusion of the magistrate judge that the misstatements and omissions in the ALJ's findings constituted harmless error, and the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence in the record.

For the reasons set forth herein, the court will accept and adopt the findings and conclusions of the magistrate judge and affirm the decision of the Commissioner denying benefits. A separate order will be entered this date in accordance with this opinion.

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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