United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is the report and recommendation of Judge
Saporito, (Doc. 16), recommending that
plaintiff's appeal from the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security be denied, and that the
decision of the Commissioner be affirmed. Judge Saporito
reviewed the record in this case pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§405(g) to determine whether there is substantial
evidence to support the Commissioner's decision denying
the plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under the Social Security Act,
(“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§401-433,
1381-1383f. The plaintiff, Janet Doris Snyder, has filed
objections and a brief in support. (Doc. 17). The
Commissioner responded to plaintiff's objections. (Doc.
18). For the following reasons, the report and
recommendation is ADOPTED and
plaintiff's appeal of the decision of the Commissioner
will be DENIED.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
objections are timely filed to the report and recommendation
of a magistrate judge, the district court must review de
novo those portions of the report to which objections
are made. 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1); Brown v.
Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011). Although the
standard is de novo, the extent of review is
committed to the sound discretion of the district judge, and
the court may rely on the recommendations of the magistrate
judge to the extent it deems proper. Rieder v.
Apfel, 115 F.Supp.2d 496, 499 (M.D.Pa. 2000) (citing
United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980)).
those sections of the report and recommendation to which no
objection is made, the court should, as a matter of good
practice, “satisfy itself that there is no clear error
on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), advisory committee
notes; see also Univac Dental Co. v. Dentsply Intern.,
Inc., 702 F.Supp.2d 465, 469 (M.D.Pa. 2010) (citing
Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir.
1987) (explaining judges should give some review to every
report and recommendation)). Nevertheless, whether timely
objections are made or not, the district court may accept,
not accept, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C.
§636(b)(1); Local Rule 72.31.
reviewing the denial of disability benefits, the court must
determine whether the denial is supported by substantial
evidence. Brown v. Bowen, 845 F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d
Cir. 1988); Johnson v. Commissioner of Social Sec.,
529 F.3d 198, 200 (3d Cir. 2008). Substantial evidence
“does not mean a large or considerable amount of
evidence, but rather such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552 (1988);
Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360. (3d Cir.
1999), Johnson, 529 F.3d at 200. It is less than a
preponderance of the evidence but more than a mere scintilla.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
Furthermore, in determining if the ALJ's decision is
supported by substantial evidence the court may not parse the
record but rather must scrutinize the record as a whole.
Smith v. Califano, 637 F.2d 968, 970 (3d Cir. 1981).
receive disability benefits, the plaintiff must demonstrate
an “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C.
[a]n individual shall be determined to be under a disability
only if [her] physical or mental impairment or impairments
are of such severity that [she] is not only unable to do
[her] previous work but cannot, considering [her] age,
education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the
immediate area in which [she] lives, or whether a specific
job vacancy exists for [her], or whether [she] would be hired
if [she] applied for work. For purposes of the preceding
sentence (with respect to any individual), ‘work which
exists in the national economy' means work which exists
in significant numbers either in the region where such
individual lives or in several regions of the country.
42 U.S.C. §423(d)(2)(A).
RELEVANT MEDICAL EVIDENCE
Saporito's report and recommendation
(“R&R”), (Doc. 16, pp. 2-8), as well
as the initial briefs of the parties, (Doc. 13, Doc.
14), contain a thorough review of the
plaintiff's medical history. The plaintiff did not file
any objections to Judge Saporito's factual determinations
regarding her medical history, so they will be adopted.
See Butterfield v. Astrue, 2010 WL 4027768, *3
(E.D.Pa. Oct. 14, 2010) (“To obtain de novo
determination of a magistrate [judge's] findings by a
district court, 28 U.S.C. §636(b)(1) requires both
timely and specific objections to the report.”)
(quoting Goney v. Clark, 749 F.2d 5, 6 (3d
Cir.1984)). The court will restrict its discussion below to
the relevant medical background as it pertains to the
plaintiff's objections. Also, since the five-step legal
framework for addressing a disability claim was properly
stated in the R&R, (Doc. 16 at 11-12), and the
findings of the ALJ at each step is in the record, (Doc.
10-2, at 21-29), the court incorporates by reference
these portions of the R&R and the ALJ's decision.
plaintiff raises two objections to the R&R claiming that
Judge Saporito erred in his report with respect to his
following findings about the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”): (1) the judge erred in finding that the
ALJ's error at step two was harmless and, erred by
“supplying his own reasoning to support the ALJ's
decision rather than relying upon the ALJ's decision
itself”; and (2) the judge erred in finding that the
ALJ properly evaluated the opinions of Dr. Vegari and Dr.
Shipkin. Specifically, plaintiff claims that Judge Saporito
erred regarding the stated doctors' opinions by: a)
“failing to analyze or address [her] argument regarding
Dr. Vegari's opinion that [she] is limited to lifting
five pounds”; b. “finding that Dr. Vegari's
opinion regarding [her] concentration limitations was
accounted for by limiting [her] to ‘simple, routine,