United States District Court, D. Minnesota
S. Doty, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the court upon the objection by plaintiff
Lance Gerald Milliman to the June 29, 2017, report and
recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge Leo I.
Brisbois. In his report, the magistrate judge recommends that
the court deny the motion for summary judgment by Milliman
and grant the motion for summary judgment by defendant Acting
Commissioner of Social Security Nancy A. Berryhill
(Commissioner). After a de novo review, and for the following
reasons, the court overrules the objection and adopts the
report and recommendation in its entirety.
background of the action is fully set forth in the report and
recommendation, and the court briefly summarizes the history
of the present action. Milliman seeks judicial review of the
decision to deny his application for period of disability,
disability benefits, and for supplemental security income.
The Commissioner denied the applications initially and again
upon reconsideration. Milliman then requested a hearing
before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
April 15, 2015, the ALJ affirmed the denial of Milliman's
applications. The Appeals Council denied a request for
review, making the ALJ's determination the final decision
of the Commissioner. On June 20, 2016, Milliman filed this
action, seeking judicial review of the decision denying
benefits. Both parties moved for summary judgment. Magistrate
Judge Brisbois recommends granting the Commissioner's
motion. Milliman objects.
Standard of Review
court reviews the report and recommendation (R&R) of the
magistrate judge de novo, and the findings and decisions of
the ALJ for substantial evidence on the record as a whole.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C); Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001).
“Substantial evidence is less than a preponderance, but
enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to
support the [ALJ's] conclusion.” Byes v.
Astrue, 687 F.3d 913, 915 (8th Cir. 2012). On review,
the court considers “both evidence that detracts from
and evidence that supports the Commissioner's
decision.” Hartfield v. Barnhart, 384 F.3d
986, 988 (8th Cir. 2004). The court, however, may not
“reverse the Commissioner's decision simply because
there is evidence supporting a different result.”
Hall v. Chater, 109 F.3d 1255, 1258 (8th Cir. 1997).
Moreover, a court may not substitute its judgment for that of
the ALJ. Fastner v. Barnhart, 324 F.3d 981, 983 (8th
Cir. 2003). Rather, the court will disturb the ALJ's
decision to deny benefits only if “the record contains
insufficient evidence to support the outcome.”
Nicola v. Astrue, 480 F.3d 885, 886-87 (8th Cir.
Propriety of R&R
first argues that the R&R is improper because Magistrate
Judge Brisbois was without authority to hear the matter.
Milliman maintains that he filed a request to have the matter
considered by the district judge. This argument is without
merit. First, the docket reflects no such request by
Milliman. Second, the court's local rules designate
magistrate judges to “submit to the district judge
proposed findings and recommendations in the disposition of
... motions for summary judgment in social security appeals
under 42 U.S.C. § 405.” Minn. L.R. 72.1(a)(3)(D).
See also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) (“[A]
judge may ... designate a magistrate judge to conduct
hearings, including evidentiary hearings, and to submit to a
judge of the court proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the court
....”). Magistrate Judge Brisbois complied with the
court's rule in issuing an R&R in this case. Now that
Milliman has objected to the R&R the district judge will
review those objections de novo pursuant to statute. As a
result, the court overrules this objection.
also objects to the ALJ's decision, arguing that he was
biased against him as evidenced by the fact that he yelled
and screamed at Milliman during the hearing. The record as a
whole, and in particular the transcript of the hearing, do
not support a finding of ALJ bias. Although the written page
does not disclose tone, none of the words used or questions
asked by the ALJ betray any bias against Milliman. As a
result, Milliman has failed to overcome the presumption that
the ALJ was unbiased. Perkins v. Astrue, 648 F.3d
892, 902-03 (8th Cir. 2011).
Sufficiency of Evidence
next argues that the ALJ's decision was not based on
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Milliman
maintains that the ALJ relied on inadmissible evidence and
disregarded evidence favorable to him in reaching a final
determination. After careful consideration of the ALJ's
order and the transcript of the hearing, and as set forth in
detail in the R&R, the court concludes that there was
ample admissible evidence in the record to support the
ALJ's conclusion ...