United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
WILLIAM E. SMITH, CHIEF JUDGE.
the Court is Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond's Report
and Recommendation (“R&R”), ECF No. 20, which
recommends that the Court deny Plaintiff's Motion to
Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner, ECF No. 15, and
grant Defendant's Motion to Affirm the Decision of the
Commissioner, ECF No. 16. Plaintiff filed a timely objection
to the R&R (“Pl. Obj. to R&R”), ECF No.
21. For the reasons that follow, the Court ACCEPTS and ADOPTS
the R&R, ECF No. 20, over Plaintiff's objection, and
therefore DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse the
Decision of the Commissioner, ECF No. 15, and GRANTS
Defendant's Motion to Affirm the Decision of the
Commissioner, ECF No. 16.
relevant facts are set forth in the R&R, and therefore
are only briefly summarized here. Plaintiff filed an
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) in 2014, which was denied. R&R 2.
Following a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff suffered from severe
physical impairments based on ailments to his shoulder and
back, asthma, and sleep apnea. R&R 11. However, the ALJ
ultimately determined that Plaintiff could perform light or
unskilled work and therefore was not disabled. R&R 11.
After the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review and the decision became final, Plaintiff appealed the
decision to this Court. R&R 2.
review, Magistrate Judge Almond determined that substantial
evidence existed in the record to support the ALJ's
findings. R&R 2. Specifically, he concluded that the ALJ
based her findings on “competent medical opinion
evidence of record, and Plaintiff has shown no error in that
finding.” R&R 13. Plaintiff filed an objection to
Standard of Review
party files an objection to an R&R, “the Court
conducts ‘a de novo determination of those portions of
the R&R to which objection is made' and ‘may
accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings
or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.'”
Emissive Energy Corp. v. SPA-Simrad, Inc., 788
F.Supp.2d 40, 42 (D.R.I. 2011)(brackets omitted)(quoting 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)). As such, the Court reviews the
decision of the Commissioner using the same standard as
Magistrate Judge Almond.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), findings of fact made by the
Commissioner are conclusive so long as those findings are
supported by substantial evidence. The First Circuit has held
that the substantial evidence standard is deferential; it
requires “more than a scintilla” of evidence, but
less than “a preponderance of evidence.”
Purdy v. Berryhill, 887 F.3d 7, 13 (1st Cir.
2018)(quoting Bath Iron Works Corp. v. U.S. Dep't of
Labor, 336 F.3d 51, 56 (1st Cir. 2003). Moreover, a
Commissioner's decision will not be overturned “if
a reasonable mind, reviewing the evidence in the record as a
whole, could accept it as adequate to support [the]
decision.” Id. (quoting Rodriguez v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir.
objects to Magistrate Judge Almond's determination that
substantial record evidence supports the ALJ's decision.
Plaintiff argues, inter alia, that the ALJ erred in relying
on the opinions of two state agency consulting physicians and
discounting the opinion of Plaintiff's treating
physician. Pl. Obj. to R&R 4. Plaintiff asserts
that, based on the medical evidence, the ALJ should have
found Plaintiff's residual functional capacity to be
limited to sedentary work, rather than light work. Pl. Obj.
to R&R 3-4.
Court agrees with the recommendations and reasoning set forth
in the R&R. First, as Magistrate Judge Almond states,
Plaintiff's initial brief “does not directly
challenge or ever mention the opinions of [the state agency
consulting physicians]. . . or the ALJ's reliance on
those opinions.” R&R 12. Moreover, even considering
Plaintiff's assertions concerning the state agency
physicians, after careful review of the relevant materials,
it is clear to the Court that substantial evidence in the
record exists to support the ALJ's finding.
R&R sets forth, “a treating source's opinion on
the question of the severity of an impairment will be given
controlling weight so long as it is well-supported by
medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostics
techniques and is not inconsistent with other substantial
evidence in the record.” Bouvier v. Astrue, 923
F.Supp.2d 336, 347 (D.R.I. 2013) (brackets omitted) (quoting
Polanco-Quinones v. Astrue, 477 Fed. App'x 745,
746 (1st Cir. 2012)); see R&R 5 (citing 20 C.F.R. §
401.1527(d)(2)). It is also true that if “a treating
doctor's opinion is inconsistent with other substantial
evidence in the record, the requirement of ‘controlling
weight' does not apply.” Id. (quoting Shaw
v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., No. 93-2173, 1994
WL 251000, at *3 (1st Cir. June 9, 1994)). Given the evidence
in the record, the Court finds no error in the ALJ's
weighing of medical opinions. Therefore, the Court accepts
the R&R and adopts the reasoning set forth therein.
reasons stated herein, the Court ACCEPTS the R&R, ECF No.
20, and adopts its reasoning over Plaintiff's objection.
Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse the Decision of the
Commissioner, ECF No. 15, is DENIED, and Defendant's