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
21) to the Magistrate Judge’s Findings of Fact,
Conclusions of Law and Recommendation (“R&R”)
(DN 20), and Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgment
(DN 10). For the reasons outlined below, the objection is
OVERRULED and the motion is
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Shireen Dupree Hutcherson (“Hutcherson”) filed an
application for Title II Social Security disability insurance
benefits on November 15, 2014. (Administrative R. at 176, DN
7-5 [hereinafter R.]). On March 14, 2017, Administrative Law
Judge Gloria B. York (“ALJ”) conducted a hearing
on Hutcherson’s application. (R. at 53, DN 7-2). Upon
consideration of Hutcherson’s claim, the ALJ denied it
using the five-step sequential process established by the
Social Security Administration (“SSA”). 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4); (R. at 21-40, DN 7-2).
first step, the ALJ found that Hutcherson has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since May 30, 2014, the alleged
onset date, and that Hutcherson meets the insured status
requirements. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i); (R. at 27,
DN 7-2). At the second step, the ALJ determined that
Hutcherson has severe impairments, including: fibromyalgia;
knee pain status post several surgeries; neck and low back
pain with degenerative disc disease; shoulder pain; a bipolar
disorder; and a generalized anxiety disorder with a panic
disorder. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii); (R. at 27, DN
7-2). At the third step, the ALJ found that Hutcherson does
not have any impairment or combination of impairments that
meets one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii);
(R. at 28, DN 7-2). At the fourth step, the ALJ found that
Hutcherson: has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work; can lift and carry ten pounds occasionally;
can stand and walk two hours out of an eight-hour day; can
sit six hours out of an eight-hour day; can frequently reach
overhead; and is limited to routine, repetitive tasks which
require only occasional interaction with supervisors and
coworkers and no interaction with the general public in a job
which is not fast paced. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv);
(R. at 30, DN 7-2). For the fifth and final step, the ALJ
determined that Hutcherson is capable of performing a
significant number of jobs that exist in the national
economy. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v); (R. at 33, DN
7-2). Thus, the ALJ determined that Hutcherson “has not
been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security
Act, from May 30, 2014, through the date of this
decision” and did not award benefits. (R. at 34, DN
appealed the ALJ’s decision to the Appeals Council on
July 20, 2017, which denied her request for review on
February 15, 2018. (R. at 173-75, DN 7-4). Hutcherson then
filed the present action on April 13, 2018. (Compl., DN 1).
Upon Hutcherson’s motion for summary judgment
(Pl.’s Mot. Summ. J., DN 10) the Magistrate Judge
issued his R&R, recommending that this Court affirm the
ALJ’s decision and deny Hutcherson’s motion for
summary judgment. (R&R at 13, DN 20). Hutcherson then
objected to the R&R. (Pl.’s Obj., DN 21).
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. 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 fact 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. 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.
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
that a “reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion” is substantial evidence.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(internal quotation marks omitted) (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) (citation 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 or 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).
her objection and motion, Hutcherson appears to generally
argue that the ALJ’s opinion is not supported by
substantial evidence. The only specific objections Hutcherson
makes is that the ALJ failed to properly consider the
opinions of three medical professionals in coming to her
conclusion. (Pl.’s Obj. 9-15, DN 21; Pl.’s Mem.
Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 9-13, DN 10-1). Specifically, Hutcherson
argues that the ALJ failed to properly consider the opinions
of her treating physicians, Dr. Andrea Watson (“Dr.
Watson”) and Dr. Mark Smith (“Dr. Smith”),
the examining consultative psychologist, Dr. J. Lorilea
Conyer (“Dr. Conyer”).
The ALJ did not err in discounting the opinions of ...