United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
N. Stivers, Chief Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objection (DN
19) to the Magistrate Judge's Findings of Fact,
Conclusions of Law, and Recommendation (DN 18). For the
reasons outlined below, the objection is OVERRULED.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
action arises from the denial of the protective application
for Title II Social Security disability insurance benefits
filed by Plaintiff Veronica Ann Threlkel
(“Plaintiff”). (Compl. ¶ 6, DN 1). In her
application, Plaintiff alleges that her disability began on
January 1, 2014, and that she suffered from degenerative disc
disease, status post cervical fusion surgery, osteoarthritis,
status post right anterior cruciate ligament repair surgery,
hypertension, obesity, anxiety, and depression.
(Administrative R. 12-13, DN 13 [hereinafter R.]).
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) conducted a
video hearing on May 12, 2017. (R. 10). On August 29, 2017,
the ALJ rendered a decision that Plaintiff was not disabled
using the five-step sequential process established by the
Social Security Administration (“SSA”). At the
first step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from January 1, 2014, through
September 30, 2015, the date her insured status expired. (R.
12). At the second step, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
had severe impairments, including: degenerative disc disease;
status post cervical fusion surgery; osteoarthritis; status
post right anterior cruciate ligament repair surgery;
hypertension; obesity; anxiety; and depression. (R. 12-13).
At the third step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff does not have
any impairment or combination of impairments that meets one
of the listed impairments in Appendix 1. (R. 13). At the
fourth step, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work but could not
kneel, crawl, or climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. (R.
13-14). For the fifth and final step, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff is capable of performing a significant No. of jobs
that exist in the national economy. (R. 17-18). Thus, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff was not disabled and not entitled
to benefits for the period of January 1, 2014, through
September 30, 2015. (R. 19). Plaintiff subsequently appealed
that determination to the Appeals Council, which denied her
request for review. (R. 2-4).
Plaintiff filed the present action, the Magistrate Judge
issued Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and
Recommendation (“R&R”) recommending that this
Court uphold the ALJ's determination and dismiss the
Complaint. (R&R 8, DN 18). Plaintiff then objected to the
R&R. (Pl.'s Obj., DN 19).
Court has jurisdiction to examine the record that was before
the Commissioner on the date of the Commissioner's final
decision and to enter a judgment affirming, modifying, or
reversing that decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
security cases may receive different levels of review in
federal district courts. The Federal Magistrates Act allows
district judges to designate magistrate judges to issue
“proposed findings of facts and recommendations for
disposition . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). The
magistrate judge then files a recommendation, to which each
party may object within fourteen days. See 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). Those parts of the report to which objections are
raised are reviewed by the district judge de novo. See
Id. This differs from the standard applied to the
Commissioner of Social Security's decision, which is
reviewed to determine “whether it is supported by
substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal
standards.” Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (citations omitted).
that a “reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion” is substantial evidence.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(citation omitted). It is “more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance . . . .” Rogers,
486 F.3d at 241 (internal quotation marks omitted) (citations
omitted). Where substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
decision, a court is obliged to affirm. See Siterlet v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 823 F.2d 918,
920 (6th Cir. 1987) (citation omitted). A court should not
attempt to resolve conflicts of evidence or questions of
credibility. See Bass v. McMahon, 499 F.3d 506, 509
(6th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). The district court may
consider any evidence in the record, regardless of whether
cited in the ALJ's decision. See Mullen v.
Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545-46 (6th Cir. 1986).
objection, Plaintiff challenges the sufficiency of the
reasons stated by the ALJ in discounting the assessment by
Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Thomas Grabenstein
(“Dr. Grabenstein”). (Pl.'s Obj. 1-4). In
particular, Plaintiff contends that the Magistrate Judge
failed to articulate good reasons for placing little weight
on the treating physician's assessment. (Pl.'s Obj.
applicable social security regulations contain a procedural
requirement that the SSA “always give good reasons in
[its] notice of determination or decision for the weight [it]
give[s] [a claimant's] treating source's medical
opinion.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c)(2); see also
Wilson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 378 F.3d 541, 544
(6th Cir. 2004) (“The regulation requires the agency to
‘give good reasons' for not giving weight to a