United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma
TRACI G. SMITH, Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
L. PALK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the Court is the Objection [Doc. No. 27] filed by Plaintiff
Traci G. Smith to U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne
Mitchell's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) [Doc. No. 26]. The Commissioner filed
a response to the objection. See Resp., Doc. No. 28.
R&R, Judge Mitchell recommended the entry of judgment
affirming the Commissioner's final decision on
Plaintiff's request for supplemental security income
benefits because the administrative law judge's
determination was supported by substantial evidence. That
substantial-evidence standard of review-whether there
“is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion, ” which
“requires more than a scintilla, but less than a
preponderance”-is key to Judge Mitchell's
determination, as well as to the Court's determination in
this case. Lax v. Astrue, 489 F.3d 1080, 1084 (10th
Cir. 2007) (quotation marks and citation omitted). Whether
the Court “would have reached a different result [in
the first instance] based on the [same] record” is not
the question before the Court. Ellison v. Sullivan,
929 F.2d 534, 536 (10th Cir. 1990).
argues that Judge Mitchell erred in her R&R by rejecting
Plaintiff's arguments (from her opening brief [Doc. No.
18]) that the ALJ ignored probative evidence in reaching his
conclusion and that his findings were not supported by
substantial evidence. The Court reviews de novo those
portions of the R&R to which Plaintiff made specific
objections. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). Having done so, the Court concurs with
Judge Mitchell's analysis and adopts the same. The
administrative record “must demonstrate that the ALJ
considered all of the evidence, but an ALJ is not required to
discuss every piece of evidence.” Clifton v.
Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009-10 (10th Cir. 1996). And
“[t]he possibility of drawing two inconsistent
conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an
administrative agency's findings from being supported by
substantial evidence.” Lax, 489 F.3d at 1084
(quotation marks and citation omitted). Here, the ALJ
adequately supported his determination by substantial
evidence from the record.
also faults Judge Mitchell for referencing an indication in
Plaintiff's medical records that she was
“stable” and for putting some stock in the
ALJ's indication that he had considered the entire
administrative record in what Plaintiff calls a
“general disclaimer.” Obj. 2, 5, Doc. No. 27.
Assuming without deciding that Plaintiff is correct, the
result reached in this case is not changed. Even if these two
references were excised from Judge Mitchell's R&R,
the Court would still adopt it and still find that Judge
Mitchell correctly determined that substantial evidence
existed to support the ALJ's conclusion. Thus,
Plaintiff's arguments do not prevail.
the circumstances present in this case-where Plaintiff
disagrees with the conclusion reached by the ALJ-are
different from those in the authorities Plaintiff relies on.
Most notably, in Clifton, the ALJ had “not
discuss[ed] the evidence or his reasons for determining that
[the plaintiff] was not disabled . . . or even identified]
the relevant Listing or Listings.” 79 F.3d at 1009. In
Hardman v. Barnhart, the ALJ used nothing more than
boilerplate language and “failed to link or connect any
of the factors he recited to any evidence in the
record.” 362 F.3d 676, 679 (10th Cir. 2004). And, in
Cox v. Apfel, the ALJ “made no mention of any
of the uncontroverted evidence that [the] plaintiff suffered
from depression, and did not mention, discuss, or weigh
[multiple physicians'] findings or opinions with respect
to [the] plaintiffs depression” despite the fact that
the plaintiffs “primary diagnosis [was] her mood
disorder”-i.e., depression. No. 98-5203, 1999 WL
820215, at *2-3 (10th Cir. Oct. 14, 1999) (emphasis omitted)
(unpublished). Those situations-which each counseled for
remand to the agency-are not present in this case.
THEREFORE ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation [Doc.
No. 26] is ADOPTED in its entirety and Plaintiffs Objection
thereto [Doc. No. 27] is OVERRULED. The Commissioner's
decision is AFFIRMED. A separate judgment will be entered
 Commissioner Saul has been substituted
for former acting-Commissioner Berryhill pursuant to Federal
Rule of ...