United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
D. WHITTEMORE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is the Report and Recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge (Dkt. 20), recommending that the
Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiffs claim for
disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental
security income be affirmed. Plaintiff filed objections (Dkt.
21), to which the Commissioner responded (Dkt. 22). After a
review of the findings to which no objection has been made
for plain error and a de novo review of the legal
conclusions, I agree with the Magistrate Judge that the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") applied the
correct legal standards and her decision is supported by
substantial evidence. Accordingly, the objections are
overruled, the Report and Recommendation is adopted, and the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
does not object to specific findings or conclusions in the
Report and Recommendation. (Plaintiff s Objections and
Request for Oral Argument, Dkt. 21). Rather, Plaintiff makes
a general objection that "Defendant Commissioner's
decision is not based on substantial evidence because no
reasonable person would find that the evidence in this matter
supports a finding that Plaintiff Weatherly would be able to
maintain employment on a full-time basis eight (8) hours a
day five (5) days a week." (Dkt. 21). Plaintiff requests
de novo review, requests oral argument, and purports
to adopt "her original memorandum in this matter, as if
set forth fully herein." (Id.).
district court may accept, reject, or modify a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). In the absence of specific objections, factual
findings are reviewed for plain error. Id. at §
63 6(b)(1)(C), Dupree v. Warden, 715 F.3d 1295,
1300-01 (11th Cir. 2013). Legal conclusions are reviewed
de novo, even in the absence of an objection.
See LeCroy v. McNeil, 397 F.App'x 554, 556 (11th
Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (citing United States v.
Warren, 687 F.2d 347, 348 (11thCir. 1982) (per curiam));
Cooper-Houston v. Southern Ry. Co., 37 F.3d 603, 604
(11th Cir. 1994) (per curiam).
administrative law judge's decision is reviewed to
determine whether the correct legal standards were applied,
Graham v. Apfel, 129 F.3d 1420, 1422 (11th Cir.
1997) (per curiam), and if the decision as a whole is
supported by substantial evidence, Dyer v. Barnhart,
395 F.3d 1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence is
"more than a scintilla and is such relevant evidence as
a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion." Winschel v. Commissioner of Soc.
Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted). The court "may
not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or
substitute [its] judgment for that of the
[Commissioner]." Id. (internal quotation marks
and citations omitted). Legal conclusions of the
administrative law judge, however, are reviewed de novo.
Ingram v. Commissioner of Soc. Sec, 496 F.3d 1253, 1260
(11th Cir. 2007).
is a five-step, sequential evaluation process to determine
whether a claimant is disabled. Winschel, 631 F.3d
at 1178 (citing Phillips v. Barnhari, 357 F.3d 1232,
1238 (11th Cir. 2004)). The first three steps evaluate
whether (1) the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity, (2) the claimant has a severe impairment or
combination of impairments, and (3) the impairment meets or
equals the severity of the specified impairments in the
Listing of Impairments. Id. The fourth step asks
whether, based on the claimant's residual functional
capacity ("RFC") assessment, the claimant can
perform any of her past relevant work despite the limitations
caused by her impairments. Id. At the fourth step,
the administrative law judge considers "all the relevant
medical and other evidence" in the case record to
determine the claimant's RFC. Phillips, 357 F.3d
at 1238 (quoting 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e)). The claimant
bears the burden of establishing that she cannot perform her
past relevant work based on her RFC. Jones v. Apfel,
190 F.3d 1224, 1228 (11th Cir. 1999). If the claimant
establishes that she cannot perform her past relevant work,
the burden shifts to the administrative law judge at the
fifth step to determine whether there are significant numbers
of other jobs in the national economy the claimant can
perform, given her RFC, age, education, and work experience.
Winschel, 631 F.3d at 1178; Jones, 190 F.3d
determined, as to steps one through three, that Plaintiff had
not been engaged in substantial gainful activity and she has
severe impairments including "disorders of the spine;
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; bipolar disorder, with
mixed features and anxious distress; and, cocaine and
cannabis use disorders, with fragile sobriety, " but her
impairments do not meet or medically equal the severity of
listed impairments (Decision, Dkt. 14-2 at pp. 20-21). The
ALJ further concluded at step four that she is capable of
performing her past relevant work as an admitting officer and
bakery worker because such work does not require the
performance of activities precluded by her RFC. (Id.
at p. 28). The Magistrate Judge recommended, after a thorough
review of the ALJ's findings and conclusions, that the
decision of the ALJ be affirmed. (Report and Recommendation,
Factual Findings Are Reviewed for Plain Error and Legal
Conclusions Are Reviewed De Novo Because Plaintiff
Failed to Make Specific Objections
noted, Plaintiff failed to pinpoint specific findings or
conclusions in the Report and Recommendation that she deems
objectionable. See United States v. Schidtz, 565
F.3d 1353, 1360 (11th Cir. 2009) (per curiam) ("After a
magistrate judge has issued a report and recommendation under
§ 636(b)(1)(B), a party that wishes to preserve its
objection must clearly advise the district court and pinpoint
the specific findings that the party disagrees with.").
Rather, she generally objects that the Commissioner's
decision was not supported by substantial evidence.
(Plaintiff s Objections and Request for Oral Argument, Dkt.
21). "Parties filing objections to a magistrate's
report and recommendation must specifically identify those
findings objected to. Frivolous, conclusive, or general
objections need not be considered by the district
court." Marsden v. Moore, 847 F.2d 1536, 1548
(11th. Cir. 1988) (citing Nettles v. Wainwright, 677
F.2d 404, 410 n.8 (5th Cir. Unit B 1982)).Plaintiffs
purported adoption of her original memorandum is not an
effective objection. Her memorandum predates the Report and
Recommendation, and therefore cannot serve as an objection to
the findings and conclusions that the Magistrate Judge made
Plaintiff has not made specific objections to the Report and
Recommendation, factual findings are reviewed for plain error
and legal conclusions are reviewed de novo. Dupree,
715 F.3d at 1300-01; LeCroy, 397 F.App'x at 556.
The Magistrate Judge concluded that the ALJ properly accorded
little weight to an opinion of Dr. Elzbieta J. Chobot-Sochet,
one of Plaintiff s treating physicians, and that the ALJ
properly determined based on her RFC that she is capable of
performing her past relevant work. (Report and
Recommendation, Dkt. 20). The ALJ's decisions on these
points will be affirmed if the legal conclusions are correct
and the decisions are supported by substantial evidence.
While determining whether substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's conclusions, the ALJ's factual findings are
entitled to great deference. See Hunter v. Social Sec.
Admin., Comm'r, 808 F.3d 818, 822 (11th Cir. 2015).
The ALJ's Findings Relatingto Dr. Chobot-Sochet,