United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division
SHAWN M. EDEN, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ON REPORT AND
LEONARD T. STRAND, CHIEF JUDGE
case is before me on a Report & Recommendation (R&R)
by the Honorable Kelly K.E. Mahoney, Chief United States
Magistrate Judge. Doc. No. 17. Judge Mahoney recommends that
I reverse the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(the Commissioner) denying plaintiff Shawn Eden's
application for supplemental security income (SSI) under
Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C.
§§ 1381, et seq., and remand for further
proceedings. Id. Both parties have filed timely
objections to the R&R. Doc. Nos. 18, 19.
Judicial Review of the Commissioner's
Commissioner's decision must be affirmed “if it is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a
whole.” Pelkey v. Barnhart, 433 F.3d 575, 577
(8th Cir. 2006); see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(“The findings of the Commissioner . . . as to any
fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be
conclusive . . . .”). “Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Lewis v. Barnhart, 353 F.3d 642, 645 (8th Cir. 2003)
(quoting Kelley v. Callahan, 133 F.3d 583, 587 (8th
Cir. 1998)). The Eighth Circuit has explained that the
standard “is something less than the weight of the
evidence and allows for the possibility of drawing two
inconsistent conclusions, thus it embodies a zone of choice
within which the [Commissioner] may decide to grant or deny
benefits without being subject to reversal on appeal.”
Culbertson v. Shalala, 30 F.3d 934, 939 (8th Cir.
1994) (quoting Turley v. Sullivan, 939 F.2d 524, 528
(8th Cir. 1991)).
determine whether the Commissioner's decision meets this
standard, the court considers “all of the evidence that
was before the ALJ.” Vester v. Barnhart, 416
F.3d 886, 889 (8th Cir. 2005). The court considers both
evidence which supports the Commissioner's decision and
evidence that detracts from it. Kluesner v. Astrue,
607 F.3d 533, 536 (8th Cir. 2010). The court “must
search the record for evidence contradicting the
[Commissioner's] decision and give that evidence
appropriate weight when determining whether the overall
evidence in support is substantial.” Baldwin v.
Barnhart, 349 F.3d 549, 555 (8th Cir. 2003). However,
the court does not “reweigh the evidence presented to
the ALJ, ” id. at 555, or “review the
factual record de novo.” Roe v. Chater, 92
F.3d 672, 675 (8th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).
after reviewing the evidence, the court “find[s] it
possible to draw two inconsistent positions from the evidence
and one of those positions represents the Commissioner's
findings, [the court] must affirm the [Commissioner's]
denial of benefits.” Kluesner, 607 F.3d at 536
(quoting Finch v. Astrue, 547 F.3d 933, 935 (8th
Cir. 2008)). This is true even if the court “might have
weighed the evidence differently.” Culbertson,
30 F.3d at 939 (citation omitted). The court may not reverse
the Commissioner's decision “merely because
substantial evidence would have supported an opposite
decision.” Baker v. Heckler, 730 F.2d 1147,
1150 (8th Cir. 1984); see also Goff v. Barnhart, 421
F.3d 785, 789 (8th Cir. 2005) (“[A]n administrative
decision is not subject to reversal simply because some
evidence may support the opposite conclusion.”).
Review of Report and Recommendation
district judge must review a magistrate judge's R&R
under the following standards:
Within fourteen days after being served with a copy, any
party may serve and file written objections to such proposed
findings and recommendations as provided by rules of court. A
judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of
those portions of the report or specified proposed findings
or recommendations to which objection is made. A judge of the
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge. The
judge may also receive further evidence or recommit the
matter to the magistrate judge with instructions.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see also Fed. R. Civ. P.
72(b). Thus, when a party objects to any portion of an
R&R, the district judge must undertake a de novo review
of that portion.
portions of an R&R to which no objections have been made
must be reviewed under at least a “clearly
erroneous” standard. See, e.g., Grinder v.
Gammon, 73 F.3d 793, 795 (8th Cir. 1996) (noting that
when no objections are filed “[the district court
judge] would only have to review the findings of the
magistrate judge for clear error”). As the Supreme
Court has explained, “[a] finding is ‘clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed.” Anderson v. City of Bessemer
City, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985) (quoting United
States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948)).
However, a district judge may elect to review an R&R
under a more-exacting standard even if no objections are
Any party that desires plenary consideration by the Article
III judge of any issue need only ask. Moreover, while the
statute does not require the judge to review an issue de
novo if no objections are filed, it does not preclude
further review by the district judge, sua sponte or
at the request of a party, under a de novo or any
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).