United States District Court, D. Minnesota
JENNIFER G. MROZIK, HOGLUND, CHWIALKOWSKI & MROZIK, PLLC
BILDTSEN, ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, FOR DEFENDANT.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE
Briana Dale Jorgensen brought this action against Defendant
Nancy Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of Social Security
(“the Commissioner”), seeking review of the
denial of Jorgensen's application for disability
insurance benefits. The parties filed cross-motions for
summary judgment. United States Magistrate Judge Steven E.
Rau issued a Report & Recommendation
(“R&R”) that Jorgensen's motion be denied
and the Commissioner's granted. Jorgensen objects. After
a careful review of the record, the Court will find that the
Commissioner's decision conforms to the law and is
supported by substantial evidence from the record as a whole
as required by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). As such, the Court
will overrule Jorgensen's objections and adopt the
facts of this case are described extensively in the R&R
and are therefore summarized here only as relevant to
Jorgensen's objections. (See R&R at 1-9,
Jan. 26, 2018, Docket No. 35.) In 2012, Jorgensen filed for
Social Security disability benefits on the ground that a
variety of cognitive issues limit her ability to work.
(Admin. R. at 264, 267, Feb. 22, 2017, Docket No. 24.) As
relevant here, state agency psychologist Dr. Michael
DeSanctis determined that Jorgensen's “difficulties
in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace”
were “marked, ” an opinion with which a second
state agency psychologist concurred. (Id. at 136,
153.) Ultimately, however, both opined that Jorgensen was not
disabled. (Id. at 141, 153.)
claim was denied initially and on reconsideration.
(Id. at 16.) After a hearing, the claim was denied
again by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
(Id. at 30-31.) As relevant here, the ALJ found that
Jorgensen has “moderate limitations” in her
“ability to maintain concentration, persistence, and
pace.” (Id. at 20.) Despite finding
“moderate” rather than “marked”
limitations, the ALJ found “the State agency
psychological consultants opinions generally consistent with
the evidence in record and gives their opinions weight to the
extent that they support the above described residual
functional capacity findings.” (Id. at 29.)
The Appeals Council denied review. (Id. at 1.)
brought this action after exhausting the administrative
appeals process within the Social Security Administration.
(Compl., Apr. 19, 2016, Docket No. 1.) The parties filed
cross-motions for summary judgment, and the Magistrate Judge
recommended that Jorgensen's motion be denied and the
Commissioner's granted. (R&R at 15; Def.'s Mot.
for Summ. J., June 22, 2017, Docket No. 33; Pl.'s Mot.
for Summ. J., Apr. 24, 2017, Docket No. 27.) Jorgensen
objects, arguing that the Commissioner committed legal error
by failing to properly evaluate the opinions of the two state
agency psychologists, and that the Magistrate Judge
erroneously claimed that the ALJ's error was harmless.
(Objs. at 1-2, Feb. 9, 2018, Docket No. 37.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
magistrate judge files an R&R, a party may file
“specific written objections to the proposed findings
and recommendations.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2);
accord D. Minn. LR 72.2(b)(1). “The objections
should specify the portions of the magistrate judge's
report and recommendation to which objections are made and
provide a basis for those objections.” Mayer v.
Walvatne, No. 07-1958, 2008 WL 4527774, at *2 (D. Minn.
Sept. 28, 2008). For dispositive motions, the Court reviews
de novo a “properly objected to” portion of an
R&R. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); accord D. Minn. LR
72.2(b)(3). “Objections which are not specific but
merely repeat arguments presented to and considered by a
magistrate judge are not entitled to de novo review, but
rather are reviewed for clear error.” Montgomery v.
Compass Airlines, LLC, 98 F.Supp.3d 1012, 1017 (D. Minn.
2015). Because motions for summary judgment are dispositive,
the Court will review Jorgensen's objections de novo to
the extent that they are specific and do not merely repeat
arguments presented to and considered by the Magistrate
raises two objections to the Magistrate Judge's proposed
finding that the ALJ's determination was supported by
substantial evidence. First, Jorgensen argues that the
Commissioner “failed to properly evaluate the opinions
of the state agency psychological consultants as
mandated under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527.”
(Objs. at 1.) Second, Jorgensen argues that the R&R
erroneously claimed that any legal error was harmless.
(Id. at 5-6.)