United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
KESHA R. HUDSON-HARRIS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Defendant.
ORDER OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS TO THE
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
an action for judicial review of the final decision of
Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“Commissioner”), finding
that Plaintiff Kesha R. Hudson-Harris is not disabled and
therefore not entitled to Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) or Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under the Social Security Act. Ms.
Hudson-Harris, proceeding pro se, argues that new
evidence requires remand. This case was referred to
Magistrate Judge Baker for consideration. On December 28,
2016, Magistrate Judge Baker issued a report and
recommendation that the Commissioner's decision be upheld
because the new evidence submitted by Ms. Hudson-Harris on
appeal is not material and therefore does not warrant remand
under sentence six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). This cause is
now before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections to the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.
review the Commissioner's termination of benefits to
determine whether it was supported by substantial evidence or
is the result of an error of law. Rice v. Barnhart,
384 F.3d 363, 368-369 (7th Cir. 2004); Lopez ex rel.
Lopez v. Barnhart, 336 F.3d 535, 539 (7th Cir. 2003).
“Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Dixon v. Massanari, 270 F.3d
1171, 1176 (7th Cir. 2001). In our review of the decision of
the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), we will not
“reweigh evidence, resolve conflicts, decide questions
of credibility, or substitute [our] own judgment for that of
the Commissioner.” Lopez, 336 F.3d at 539.
However, the ALJ's decision must be based upon
consideration of “all the relevant evidence, ”
without ignoring probative factors. Herron v.
Shalala, 19 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 1994). In other
words, the ALJ must “build an accurate and logical
bridge” from the evidence in the record to his or her
final conclusion. Dixon, 270 F.3d at 1176. We
confine the scope of our review to the rationale offered by
the ALJ. See SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80,
93-95 (1943); Tumminaro v. Astrue, 671 F.3d 629, 632
(7th Cir. 2011).
party raises specific objections to elements of a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, the district court
reviews those elements de novo, determining for
itself whether the Commissioner's decision as to those
issues is supported by substantial evidence or was the result
of an error of law. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 72(b). The district
court “makes the ultimate decision to adopt, reject, or
modify” the report and recommendation, and it need not
accept any portion as binding; the court may, however, defer
to those conclusions of the report and recommendation to
which timely objections have not been raised by a party.
See Schur v. L.A. Weight Loss Ctrs., Inc., 577 F.3d
752, 759-761 (7th Cir. 2009).
Court may remand a case and order the Commissioner to
consider additional evidence “upon a showing that there
is new evidence which is material and that there is good
cause for the failure to incorporate such evidence into the
record in a prior proceeding.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Sample v. Shalala, 999 F.2d 1138, 1144 (7th Cir.
1993). To be considered “new, ” evidence must
“not [have been] in existence or available to the
claimant at the time of the administrative proceeding.”
Schmidt v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 737, 742 (7th Cir.
2005) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). For
new evidence to be “material, ” there must be a
“‘reasonable probability' that the ALJ would
have reached a different conclusion had the evidence been
review of the forty-two pages of evidence submitted by Ms.
Hudson-Harris on appeal, the Magistrate Judge determined that
remand was not warranted because the evidence submitted was
either not new, or, if new, not material. Ms. Hudson-Harris
does not put forth any substantive argument or specifically
object to any of the Magistrate Judge's findings. Rather,
she states generally that she is “unequipped to handle
the stress of everyday life” with her and her son's
disabilities as well as the stress of “being harassed
by CPS and continually being denied for SSA.” Dkt. 28
at 3. She summarily asks the Court to reconsider her appeal,
stating only that she believes she has shown that material
evidence exists that would have led the ALJ to change his
conclusion. In support of her objection, she has submitted an
additional nineteen pages of evidence that was not before the
Magistrate Judge, evidence which she argues proves her
“limited mental capacity” and, had it been
considered, would have led the ALJ to find her disabled.
not clear from her submissions whether Ms. Hudson-Harris is
in fact objecting to any portion of the Magistrate
Judge's analysis or whether she is arguing only that the
additional evidence submitted for the first time with her
objection warrants remand. Given that she is proceeding
pro se, we construe her argument
liberally and assume she is both objecting to the
Magistrate Judge's Report in its entirety and also
asserting that the additional new evidence itself
necessitates remand. Having given de novo
consideration to the evidence reviewed by the Magistrate
Judge, we hold, for the same reasons set forth in his
well-reasoned report, with which we entirely concur and
hereby adopt both as to the cited authorities and related
analysis, that none of the evidence addressed in the
Magistrate Judge's Report meets the standard required to
does the additional evidence submitted by Ms. Hudson-Harris
in support of her objection warrant remand. “[N]ew
evidence is material only if it is relevant to the
claimant's condition ‘during the relevant time
period encompassed by the disability application under
review.'” Schmidt, 395 F.3d at 742
(quoting Kapusta v. Sullivan, 900 F.2d 94, 97 (7th
Cir. 1989)). All of the additional evidence submitted by Ms.
Hudson-Harris is dated January 2016 or later, long after the
ALJ's September 2014 decision. Accordingly, none of this
evidence is material because it is relevant only to Ms.
Hudson-Harris's current condition, not to her condition
at the time her application was under consideration by the
ALJ. See Kapusta, 900 F.2d at 97 (holding that
evidence “postdating the hearing” and that
“speak[s] only to [the applicant's] current
condition, not to his condition at the time his application
was under consideration by the Social Security
Administration” does not meet the standard for new and
material evidence). If developments in Ms.
Hudson-Harris's condition have occurred since the ALJ
rendered his opinion in 2014, she may file a new application,
her claim does not merit remand on this basis.
these reasons, Ms. Hudson-Harris has not established that any
of the new evidence she has submitted is material, that is,
that there exists a reasonable probability that had it been
submitted the ALJ would have reached a different conclusion.
Accordingly, the Plaintiff's objections are
OVERRULED and we ADOPT the recommendations
set forth in the Magistrate Judge's Report.