United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S PROPOSED
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION AND DISMISSING CASE WITH
HONORABLE JAMES A. PARKER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's objections [ECF
No. 33] to the Magistrate Judge's Proposed Findings and
Recommended Disposition (“PFRD”) [ECF No. 32] on
Plaintiff's Motion to Reverse or Remand the Social
Security Administration's decision to deny
Plaintiff's application for disability benefits [ECF No.
22]. Being fully advised and after de novo
review, the Court will overrule Plaintiff's objections,
adopt the PFRD, and deny Plaintiff's Motion.
November 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion to reverse the
Social Security Administration's decision denying her
application for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income. Pl.'s Mot., ECF No. 22. In
her motion, Plaintiff alleged that her disability began on
November 5, 2009, due to bipolar disorder, hypertension, and
diabetes. Id. On September 10, 2016, Magistrate
Judge Gregory J. Fouratt issued his PFRD, recommending that
Plaintiff's motion be denied and the Social Security
Administration's decision be affirmed. PFRD, ECF No. 32.
On September 23, 2016, Plaintiff filed objections to Judge
Fouratt's PFRD. Objections, ECF No. 33.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
party objects to a magistrate judge's proposed findings
and recommendations, the Court “shall make a de
novo determination of those portions . . . to which
objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). Objections
must be made with specificity; general or conclusory
objections are insufficient. See United States v. 2121 E.
30th St., 73 F.3d 1057, 1060-61 (10th Cir. 1996)
(“a party's objections to the magistrate
judge's report and recommendation must be both timely and
specific to preserve an issue for de novo review by the
district court or for appellate review.”). “[A]n
objection must be sufficiently specific to focus the district
court's attention on the factual and legal issues that
are truly in dispute[.]” Id. at 1060.
“Issues raised for the first time in objections to the
magistrate judge's recommendation are deemed
waived.” Marshall v. Chater, 75 F.3d 1421,
1426 (10th Cir. 1996).
objections to the PFRD are primarily two-fold. First, she
argues that the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) determined by the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) was not supported by substantial
evidence because it failed to incorporate all of
Plaintiff's mental limitations. Objections at 3. More
specifically, she argues that the RFC failed to include
limitations identified by Dr. Schutte, the examining
psychologist. Id. Second, she contends that the ALJ
did not properly weigh the opinions of Ray Leal, her treating
nurse practitioner. Id. at 2.
The RFC Finding Was Supported by Substantial
assigned the following RFC to Plaintiff: “[T]he
[Plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity to perform a
full range of work at all exertional levels but with the
following nonexertional limitations: Work should involve
primarily things rather than people.” Administrative R.
(“AR”) 19-20, ECF No. 13. In both her original
motion and her objections to the PFRD, Plaintiff asserts that
“the ALJ's RFC finding ‘is not supported by
substantial evidence because she failed to include all of
[her] mental limitations in the RFC finding.'” Mem.
in Support of Pl.'s Mot. to Remand Commissioner's
Administrative Decision 6, ECF No. 22.
assessing an individual's RFC, “the ALJ must
consider the combined effect of all medically determinable
impairments, whether severe or not.” Wells v.
Colvin, 727 F.3d 1061, 1069 (10th Cir. 2013) (citing 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a)(2), 416.945(a)(2)).
Furthermore, “the RFC assessment must include a
narrative discussion describing how the evidence supports
each conclusion, citing specific medical facts (e.g.,
laboratory findings) and nonmedical evidence (e.g., daily
activities, observations).” See Hendron v.
Colvin, 767 F.3d 951, 954 (10th Cir. 2014) (citing SSR
96-8P, 1996 WL 374184 (July 2, 1996)).
meticulous review of the record and the parties'
briefing, Judge Fouratt found that “[t]he record here
reflects that the ALJ considered all of the relevant
evidence, and Plaintiff fails to demonstrate that the RFC
finding is inconsistent with any medical findings or her
mental limitations.” PFRD 14. To reach this conclusion,
Judge Fouratt noted that the ALJ reviewed all of the medical
evidence, medical opinions, and Plaintiff's function
reports. Id. at 14-15. Among the medical evidence
was evidence of Plaintiff's past psychiatric
hospitalizations, a point on which Plaintiff relies now as
evidence of her low mental functioning. However, the first
hospitalization, dated October 1, 2008, was outside of the
alleged disability period, and therefore, beyond the
ALJ's and this Court's scope of review. AR 20. The
second hospitalization took place from November 5, 2009, to
November 24, 2009. Id. The ALJ addressed this
hospitalization and its aftermath, finding that:
At the time of her release from EPPC, the [Plaintiff] was
alert, cooperative, and pleasant. Her affect was bright, with
good range and appropriate. She reported her mood was good.
Her thinking was clear, coherent and goal directed. She was
free of paranoia or delusional thought content or thoughts of
hurting or killing herself or others. The [Plaintiff] denied
experiencing any hallucinations and no impairment of
orientation or memory was detected. Her insight and judgment
were both good. The [Plaintiff] was to attend follow-up
treatment at Sun City Clinic.
The record does not indicate the [Plaintiff] followed up on
recommendations regarding ...