United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Margaret B. Seymour Senior United States District Judge
an action brought pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social
Security Act (the “Act”), codified as amended at
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to obtain judicial review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
Cherry Larraine Bibbs filed applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) on August 15, 2012,
alleging disability since August 8, 2012. Tr. 11. Her
applications were denied initially and on reconsideration.
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law
judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ held a hearing on November
26, 2013. Tr. 21. The ALJ issued a decision dated January 16,
2014, in which he concluded that Plaintiff was not
“disabled” as defined in the Social Security Act.
Tr. 20. Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was
not entitled to disability insurance benefits or supplemental
security income under Sections 216(i), 223(d), and
1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act. Plaintiff filed a
request for review of the ALJ’s decision, which was
denied by the Appeals Council on March 30, 2015. Tr. 1-3.
Thus, the decision of the ALJ became the “final
decision” of the Commissioner for the purposes of
judicial review. Plaintiff thereafter brought this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review.
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 73.02,
D.S.C., this matter was referred to United States Magistrate
Judge Bristow Marchant for a Report and Recommendation. On
June 2, 2016, the Magistrate Judge filed a Report and
Recommendation in which he recommended that the
Commissioner’s decision to deny benefits be affirmed.
ECF No. 22. Plaintiff filed objections to the Report and
Recommendation on June 20, 2016. ECF No. 24. The Commissioner
filed a response to Plaintiff’s objections on July 8,
2016. ECF No. 25.
matter now is before the court for review of the Magistrate
Judge’s Report and Recommendation. The court is charged
with making a de novo determination of any portions
of the Report to which a specific objection is made. The
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendation made by the Magistrate Judge or may recommit
the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
role of the federal judiciary in the administrative scheme
established by the Social Security Act is a limited one.
Section 205(g) of the Act provides that “[t]he findings
of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if
supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive . . .
.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence
has been defined innumerable times as more than a scintilla,
but less than a preponderance.” Thomas v.
Celebrezze, 331 F.2d 541, 543 (4thCir. 1964).
This standard precludes a de novo review of the
factual circumstances that substitutes the court’s
findings for those of the Commissioner. Vitek v.
Finch, 438 F.2d 1157 (4th Cir. 1971). The
court must uphold the Commissioner’s decision as long
as it is supported by substantial evidence. Blalock v.
Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 775 (4th Cir.
1972). “From this it does not follow, however, that the
findings of the administrative agency are to be mechanically
accepted. The statutorily granted right of review
contemplates more than an uncritical rubber stamping of the
administrative action.” Flack v. Cohen, 413
F.2d 278, 279 (4th Cir. 1969). “[T]he courts
must not abdicate their responsibility to give careful
scrutiny to the whole record to assure that there is a sound
foundation for the [Commissioner’s] findings, and that
his conclusion is rational.” Vitek, 438 F.2d
Commissioner’s findings of fact are not binding if they
were based upon the application of an improper legal
standard. Coffman v. Bowen, 829 F.2d 514, 517
(4th Cir. 1987). However, the Commissioner’s
denial of benefits shall be reversed only if no reasonable
mind could accept the record as adequate to support that
determination. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
was forty years old at the time of her hearing before the ALJ
regarding her applications for disability insurance benefits
and supplemental security income. Tr. 25. She has a high
school education and has worked in the past as a hairbraider,
cafeteria manager, office clerk, and combination cashier
/stocker. Tr. 19. She claims disability beginning August 8,
2012, including lower back problems, both legs giving out
rendering her unable to walk, and numbness in her right arm.
Tr. 56. Plaintiff asserts specific objections to the Report
and Recommendation. The court will review each of these
objections in turn.
Residual Functional Capacity
contends that the Magistrate Judge failed to find substantial
evidence to support the ALJ’s conclusion regarding
Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). ECF No. 24 at 2. The ALJ determined that
Plaintiff had a residual functional capacity to perform
“sedentary work, ” as defined by 20 C.F.R. §
[A] sedentary job is defined as one which involves sitting
[although] a certain amount of walking and standing ...