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Benton v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. South Carolina

December 20, 2016

Denmon Albert Benton, Plaintiff,
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Bruce Howe Hendricks United States District Judge

         This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's (“Commissioner”) final decision, which denied Plaintiff Denmon Albert Benton's (“Plaintiff”) claims for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”). The record includes the report and recommendation (“Report”) of United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges, which was made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), D.S.C.

         In her Report, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court reverse and remand this matter for further administrative action pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Commissioner filed timely objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report, and Plaintiff filed a reply to those objections. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (providing that a party may object, in writing, to a Magistrate Judge's Report within fourteen days after being served a copy). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and overrules the Commissioner's objections.

         BACKGROUND [1]

         Plaintiff protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI on June 19, 2014, alleging the onset of disability as of August 1, 2009. His applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. On April 16, 2015, Plaintiff had a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 5, 2015, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Subsequently, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review. Importantly, Plaintiff submitted additional evidence to the Appeals Council-specifically, prescription records from Bi-Lo Pharmacy from July 1, 2014, to July 30, 2015; a January 15, 2015 record from Edisto Indian Clinic; a letter from Dr. Creel dated July 24, 2015; encounter summaries from Edisto Indian Clinic dated October 4, 2014, through July 16, 2015; and records from Lab Corp. dated November 20, 2014, through July 16, 2015. (Tr. at 5.) However, the Appeals Council contemplated whether the ALJ's decision was “contrary to the weight of the evidence currently of record” and “concluded that the additional evidence” did “not provide a basis for changing” the ALJ's decision. (Tr. at 2.)

         Plaintiff filed the instant action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision on December 8, 2015. In his brief, Plaintiff alleges the following:

         I. The ALJ failed in his duty to fully develop the record for relevant evidence that the ALJ actually or constructively knew existed.

         II. The ALJ erred in rejecting the opinions of Mr. Benton's treating physician, Dr. John Creel, that he was totally and permanently disabled.

         III. The case should be remanded for consideration by an Administrative Law Judge of the new evidence submitted to the Appeals Council.

         IV. The ALJ's analysis of the Plaintiff's credibility was contrary to the evidence and to the standards established by the law.

         V. It was error for the ALJ to promulgate an incomplete “residual functional capacity” (RFC) that improperly failed to accommodate all of claimant's exertional and nonexertional limitations, and to rely on vocational testimony based on the deficient RFC.

         VI. Mr. Benton is disabled under the Commissioner's Grid Rule 201.14. (ECF No. 15 at 1.)

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         I. The Magistrate ...


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