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Charles Jones v. Michael J. Astrue

May 21, 2012

CHARLES JONES, PLAINTIFF
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION INTERESTED PARTY



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James Knoll Gardner United States District Judge

OPINION

This matter is before the court on Plaintiff's Objection[s] to the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge filed October 12, 2011. Defendant's Response to Plaintiff's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation was filed October 25, 2011. For the following reasons, the Report and Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Henry S. Perkin filed September 28, 2011 ("R&R") is approved and adopted in part, and rejected in part.

Specifically, I adopt that portion of Magistrate Judge Perkin's Report and Recommendation which recites the background, procedural history, standard of review, and summary of the parties' contentions, with the exception of lines fourteen through nineteen on page four. Therefore, I incorporate those portions of the Report and Recommendation into this Opinion.

On the other hand, I reject Magistrate Judge Perkin's determination that Administrative Law Judge Katie H. Pierce ("ALJ") properly concluded that plaintiff's evidence of narcolepsy did not constitute a severe impairment. Accordingly, I sustain plaintiff's objection on this issue and reject that portion of the R&R, contained at line ten of page six through line one of page nine.

Finally, I approve and adopt that portion of the R&R which concludes that the ALJ properly considered and afforded the appropriate weight to Dr. Jerome B. Albert's diagnosis regarding depression and Dr. Maqsood Ahmed's diagnosis regarding plaintiff's back condition. Thus, I approve and adopt line two of page nine through line nine of page sixteen of the Report and Recommendation.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When objections are filed to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, I am required to make a de novo determination of those portions of the report, findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge to which there are objections. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Rule 72.1(IV)(b) of the Rules of Civil Procedure for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, district judges have wide latitude regarding how they treat recommendations of the magistrate judge. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 100 S.Ct. 2406, 65 L.Ed.2d 424 (1980).

Indeed, by providing for a de novo determination, rather than a de novo hearing, Congress intended to permit a district judge, in the exercise of his or her sound discretion, the option of placing whatever reliance the court chooses to place on the magistrate judge's proposed findings and conclusions. I may accept, reject or modify, in whole or in part any of the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. Raddatz, supra.

PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS

Plaintiff raises three objections to Magistrate Judge Perkin's Report and Recommendation.

First, plaintiff contends that Magistrate Judge Perkin supplied a new rationale for the Administrative Law Judge's dismissal of plaintiff's evidence of narcolepsy as a severe impairment. Plaintiff avers that Magistrate Judge Perkin recognized that the ALJ erroneously stated that plaintiff's Epworth Sleepiness Scale scores showed improvement when, in fact, the scores did not improve. Plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge Perkin should have reversed the decision of the ALJ on this basis.

In addition, plaintiff avers that to support the conclusion that the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence, the R&R impermissibly cites evidence from the administrative record which was not cited by the ALJ. Further, plaintiff contends that the additional reasons cited by Magistrate Judge Perkin fail to support the decision that plaintiff is not disabled.

Next, plaintiff contends that Magistrate Judge Perkin relied upon improper grounds to reject highly probative evidence of depression. Plaintiff avers that the Report and Recommendation dismisses evidence of depression which pre-dates plaintiff's disability period. Plaintiff additionally contends that the R&R incorrectly upholds the ALJ's decision rejecting the opinion of Dr. Jerome B. Albert, and that Judge Perkin again impermissibly cited evidence from the administrative record which was not cited by the ALJ.

Finally, plaintiff asserts that Magistrate Judge Perkin erroneously accepted the ALJ's conclusion that plaintiff is capable of doing light work despite the evidence regarding his debilitating back condition. Plaintiff additionally contends that Magistrate Judge Perkin accepted the ALJ's reliance on overtly flawed testimony of the vocational expert. For ...


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