United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
ALLEN L. BOND, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE, District Judge.
Allen Bond brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) to challenge a final decision of the Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), which denied him application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income (SSI). [R. 1]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Bond's Motion for Summary Judgment [R. 16] and grant the Commissioner's [R. 17].
Consistent with the Court's practice and pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 626(b)(1), this matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins for the issuance of a Report and Recommendation ("R&R") containing his proposed findings and recommendations regarding the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. [ See R. 20]. Magistrate Judge Atkins filed his R&R [R. 20] on July 3, 2014. As is his right, Bond timely filed objections to this recommended disposition [R. 21] and the Commissioner has responded to those objections. [R. 22]. This Court must now make a de novo determination of those specific portions of the R&R to which objections are made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Before turning to the specific objections that trigger de novo review, the Court first notes an objection that does not. In order to receive de novo review by this Court, any objection to the Report and Recommendation must be specific. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). A specific objection "explain[s] and cite[s] specific portions of the report which [counsel] deem[s] problematic." Robert v. Tesson, 507 F.3d. 981, 994 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Smith v. Chater, 121 F.3d 709, 1997 WL 415309 at *2 (6th Cir. 1997) (unpublished opinion)). In his opening paragraph, Bond states that he "specifically objects to all findings of fact and law in the Magistrate Judge's decision." [R. 21]. This, however, is not a specific objection. Rather, this is a statement of a general objection to Judge Atkin's entire Recommended Disposition with the word "specifically" added to it. A general objection that does not identify specific issues from the Magistrate's report is not permitted because it renders the recommendations of the magistrate useless, duplicates the efforts of the magistrate, and wastes judicial economy. Howard v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 932 F.2d 505, 509. (6th Cir. 1991). Thus, save those matters relating to the actual specific objections, the Court need not conduct a de novo review of all the factual findings of the Magistrate Judge. In fact, finding no fault with the Magistrate Judge's general factual recitation, the Court incorporates his discussion of the record into this order.
Bond's first two objections address three related issues. He initially argues that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's decision to not fully credit Bond's statements regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms. In Bond's view, the improper exclusion of these statements rendered the ALJ's consideration of his obesity-related limitations incomplete. Finally, Bond claims that, in reaching the contrary conclusion on these issues, the Magistrate Judge engaged in the wrong analysis.
In determining whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner considers statements or reports from the claimant. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529. To determine whether statements of a claimant are credible, ALJ's employ the following two-part test:
First, the ALJ will ask whether the there is an underlying medically determinable physical impairment that could reasonably be expected to produce the claimant's symptoms. Second, if the ALJ finds that such an impairment exists, then he must evaluate the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of the symptoms on the individual's ability to do basic work activities.
Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 247 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.929(a)) (internal citations omitted). In 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529, the Social Security Administration informs claimants that, in certain credibility determinations, the following factors should guide the analysis of the agency decision makers:
(i) Your daily activities; (ii) The location, duration, frequency, and intensity of your pain or other symptoms; (iii) Precipitating and aggravating factors; (iv) The type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of any medication you take or have taken to alleviate your pain or other symptoms; (v) Treatment, other than medication, you receive or have received for relief of your pain or other symptoms; (vi) Any measures you use or have used to relieve your pain or other symptoms (e.g., lying flat on your back, standing for 15 to 20 minutes every hour, sleeping on a board, etc.); and (vii) Other factors concerning your functional limitations and restrictions due to pain or other symptoms.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1529; see also, Felisky v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027, 1037 (6th Cir. 1994). "Whenever a claimant's complaints regarding symptoms, or their intensity and persistence, are not supported by objective medical evidence, the ALJ must make a determination of the credibility of the claimant in connection with his or her complaints based on a consideration of the entire case record.'" Rogers, 486 F.3d at 247.
Importantly, it is within the province of the ALJ, rather than the reviewing court, to evaluate the credibility of claimant. Id. (citing Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir.1997); Crum v. Sullivan, 921 F.2d 642, 644 (6th Cir.1990); Kirk v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 667 F.2d 524, 538 (6th Cir.1981)). "The ALJ's findings as to a claimant's credibility are entitled to deference, because of the ALJ's unique opportunity to observe the claimant and judge her subjective complaints." Buxton v. Halter, 246 F.3d 762, 773 (6th Cir. ...