United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER 
POLSTER CHAPPELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is United States Magistrate Judge Patricia D.
Barksdale's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”), recommending that the Court affirm
the Commissioner of Social Security's to deny Plaintiff
Cynthia Elizabeth Barnes disability insurance benefits. (Doc.
27). Barnes objects to the R&R (Doc. 28), and the
Commissioner filed a response (Doc. 29). The R&R is thus
ripe for review.
Court adopts the factual background detailed in the R&R.
(Doc. 27 at 3-14). The procedural background is as follows.
On July 11, 2014, Barnes applied for disability insurance
benefits from June 1, 2005 (her alleged onset date), through
March 31, 2008 (her date last insured). (Doc. 1; Doc. 13).
After a hearing, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
J. Dennis Reap found that Barnes was not disabled during the
relevant period and denied her application. (Doc. 15-2 at
8-23). The Appeals Council denied Barnes' request for
review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's
final decision. (Doc. 15-2 at 2). Barnes then filed this
appeal. (Doc. 1).
Review of the Magistrate Judge's Review and
reviewing a report and recommendation, a district court
“may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3). When a party makes specific objections to a
magistrate judge's report, the district court engages in
a de novo review of the issues raise. 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
Review of the ALJ's Decision
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
limited to evaluating whether substantial evidence supports
the decision and whether the ALJ applied the proper legal
standards. See Winschel v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir. 2011). This review is de
novo. Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211
(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.” Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (quoting
Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir.
1997)). “[The Court] may not decide facts anew, reweigh
the evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for that of the
Commissioner.” Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d
1206, 1210 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting Phillips v.
Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004)). The
ALJ's decision must be affirmed if it is supported by
substantial evidence, even if the Court finds the evidence
more likely supports a different conclusion. See Miles v.
Chater, 84 F.3d 1397, 1400 (11th Cir. 1996).
raises three objections to the R&R, offering no more than
a reiteration of the arguments she made in her Memorandum
(Doc. 22). In her first two arguments, Barnes challenges the
evidentiary support of the ALJ's findings that
Barnes' mental and physical impairments were not severe.
In her third argument, Barnes accuses the ALJ of violating
her due process rights by relying on an opinion absent from
the record. Barnes repeats the same arguments in her
objections to the R&R. (Doc. 28).
an independent review of the complete record and applicable
case law, the Court finds the R&R to be well reasoned,
thorough, and legally sound. And because Barnes'
objections are mere restatements of the arguments Judge
Barksdale considered and rejected, the Court will address
them only briefly here.
summarizes her first objection: “In failing to find
Plaintiff's mental impairments severe and in giving no
weight to Dr. Alsamman's and Dr. Nandigam's
retrospective opinions, the ALJ issued a decision unsupported
by substantial evidence.” (Doc. 28 at 6). An ALJ can
disregard a physician's opinion, so long as the ALJ
articulates good cause to do so. Winschel, 631 F.3d
at 1180. Here, the ALJ did state good cause to disregard the
opinions of Drs. Alsamman and Nandigman: “they did not
see or treat her” during the relevant period,
“they offered no meaningful explanation of how the
medical history at or near the date last insured supported
their assessments, ” and “[t]heir assessments are
inconsistent with the medical evidence in the record in the
nearly two years before the date last insured and the year
thereafter.” (Doc. 15-2 at 21). Both the ALJ and Judge
Barksdale found that without retrospective opinions of Dr.
Alsamman and Dr. Nandigman, evidence of severe mental
impairments during the relevant period “is
scant.” (Doc. 27 at 16). The Court agrees.
challenges the ALJ's physical-impairment findings on two
primary fronts. First, Barnes argues the ALJ erred by giving
great weight to the conclusions of Dr. Rowley but rejecting
her opinion on the severity of Barnes' osteoarthritis and
allied disorders without explaining why. (Doc. 28 at 6). But
as Judge Barksdale points out, the ALJ identified Dr. Rowley
as a psychological consultant, not a medical doctor, so the
ALJ was free to accept her psychological opinions but not her
medical opinions. (Doc. 27 at 24). Second, Barnes argues that
the ALJ's failure to make a determination about an
impairment of fibromyalgia violated SSR ...