United States District Court, D. Nevada
KIMBERLY L. BIZAUSKAS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
M. Navarro, District Judge
before the Court is the Motion for Reversal and/or Remand,
(ECF No. 20), filed by Plaintiff Kimberly L. Bizauskas
(“Plaintiff”). Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill
(“Defendant”) filed a Response, (ECF. No. 23),
and a Cross-Motion to Affirm, (ECF No. 22), to which
Plaintiff filed a Reply, (ECF No. 24). These motions were
referred to the Honorable Cam Ferenbach, United States
Magistrate Judge, for a report of findings and
recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
636(b)(1)(B) and (C).
September 26, 2017, Judge Ferenbach entered the Report and
Recommendation (“R. & R.”), (ECF No. 25),
recommending Plaintiff’s Motion for Reversal and/or
Remand be denied and Defendant’s Motion to Affirm be
granted. Plaintiff timely filed an Objection, (ECF No. 26),
to the R. & R., and Defendant filed a Response to the
Objection, (ECF No. 27).
brings this action against Defendant in her capacity as the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, pursuant
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Compl.,
ECF No. 4). Plaintiff seeks judicial review of the final
decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration, wherein the Commissioner denied her claims
for social security disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381–1385.
(Id. ¶¶ 6, 9).
applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental
security income benefits on August 26, 2011. (Admin. R.
(“A.R.”) at 857–869, ECF No. 15-2). Her
applications were denied initially, upon reconsideration, and
after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on February 20, 2015. (Id. at
706–724). Plaintiff timely requested Appeals Council
review of the ALJ’s decision, which the Appeals Council
denied on June 20, 2016. (Compl. ¶ 8). Plaintiff then
filed her Complaint and the instant Motion to Reverse or
may file specific written objections to the findings and
recommendations of a United States Magistrate Judge made
pursuant to Local Rule IB 1–4. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B); D. Nev. Local R. IB 3-2. Upon the filing of
such objections, the Court must make a de novo
determination of those portions of the Report to which
objections are made. Id. The 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); D. Nev. Local R. IB 3-2(b).
challenges Judge Ferenbach’s findings that the ALJ
properly considered Plaintiff’s limitations as endorsed
in Dr. Fabella-Hicks’s report. Specifically, Plaintiff
alleges that the ALJ did not properly consider the statement
that “[h]er ability to complete tasks on a sustained
basis would be affected by her mental health symptoms.”
(Obj. 5:6–5:9, ECF No. 26). According to Plaintiff, if
the ALJ accepted Dr. Fabella Hicks’s statement as true,
Plaintiff would be entitled to social security benefits.
reviewing Defendant’s denial of benefits, the Court
determines whether the ALJ’s underlying decision is
supported by enough “evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197
(1938); see Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679
(9th Cir. 2005) (stating that if the evidence supports more
than one interpretation, the court must defer to the
Commissioner’s interpretation). Here, the ALJ satisfied
Dr. Fabella-Hicks’s report acknowledges that
Plaintiff’s mental health symptoms may affect her
ability to complete tasks on a sustained basis, that report
did not state that Plaintiff’s symptoms would interfere
with her ability to perform simple tasks. (A.R. at 717, ECF
No. 15-1). Additionally, the ALJ considered Dr.
Fabella-Hicks’s findings in combination with the
findings of the other examining physicians. (Id. at
714–718). As Judge Ferenbach notes, the other
physicians “commented favorably on Bizauskas ability to
concentrate and carry out tasks, and the ALJ gave specific
reasons for the weight given to each medical expert.”
(R&R 5:13–5:18). The Court therefore agrees with
Judge Ferenbach’s conclusion that the ALJ’s
determination is supported by substantial medical evidence
and that the ALJ adequately considered Dr.
Fabella-Hicks’s report. Given that the ALJ’s
conclusion is supported by substantial evidence, Plaintiff
has not provided adequate reasons for the Court to now depart
from, or reverse, the ALJ’s decision. See Molina v.
Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1115 (9th Cir. 2012).
reviewed Plaintiff’s objections de novo, the
Court finds no basis on which to reject Judge
Ferenbach’s R. & R., (ECF No. 25). The Court
therefore overrules Plaintiff’s Objection, (ECF No.