United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Richard Mark Gergel, United States District Judge
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
obtain relief from the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration denying her Disability
Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). In accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 DSC, this
matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for
pretrial handling. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and
Recommendation ("R & R") on December 14, 2016,
recommending that the Commissioner's decision be
affirmed. (Dkt. No. 17). Plaintiff filed objections to the R
& R and the Commissioner filed a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 19,
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objection has been made, and may accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate
Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
role of the federal judiciary in the administrative scheme of
the Social Security Act is a limited one. Section 405(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
preponderance." Thomas v. Celebrezze, 331 F.2d
541, 543 (4th Cir. 1964). This standard precludes de
novo review of factual circumstances that substitutes
the Court's findings for those of the Commissioner.
Vitek v. Finch, 438 F.2d 1157 (4th Cir. 1971).
the federal court's review role is limited, "it does
not follow, however, that the findings of the administrative
agency are 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."
Vitek, 438 F.2d at 1157-58.
objections to the R & R essentially reargue points
already made to the Magistrate Judge, which center on the
Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") alleged
failure to provide specific reasons for rejecting the
opinions of two non-examining and non-treating physicians,
who concluded that Plaintiff was limited to light work while
adopting the opinions of an examining consulting physician,
Dr. Harriet R. Steinhert, M.D., who concluded that Plaintiff
was capable of performing medium work. As the Magistrate
Judge correctly noted, the ALJ gave "great weight"
to the opinions of Dr. Steinert because she conducted a
careful physical examination of Plaintiff and "found the
claimant's conditions to not cause her any physical
limitations. This is consistent with the limited and
conservative treatment the claimant has received for these
conditions." Tr. 17. Further, as the Magistrate Judge
noted, Social Security Act regulations provide that
"[g]enerally, we give more weight to the opinion of a
source who has examined you." 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)(1). The ALJ gave "significant weight"
to the opinions of the non-examining and non-treating chart
reviewers only to the extent those opinions are
"consistent with the medical evidence of record and
support the ultimate finding of 'not disabled'in this
case." Tr. 18.
Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that the ALJ decision
"did offer an explanation" regarding why the
examining physician's opinions were adopted by detailing
the opinions of the examining physician and their consistency
with the claimant's treatment record and limiting the
endorsement of the chart reviewers' opinions to those not
inconsistent with the described medical record. (Dkt. No. 17
at 20-21). The ALJ's decision provides the Court adequate
information to allow proper substantial evidence review and
to conclude that there is substantial evidence in the record
to support the decision of the Commissioner in this matter.
review of the R & R, the administrative record, the
decision of the Administrative Law Judge, and the applicable
legal standards, the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge
ably summarized the factual and legal issues in this matter
and correctly concluded that the decision of the Commissioner
should be affirmed. Therefore, the Court ADOPTS the R & R
of the Magistrate Judge and AFFIRMS the decision of the
IS SO ORDERED.
 Plaintiff offered no expert opinions
from her treating physicians that indicated that she is
disabled under the Social Security Act. The only record
evidence offering an opinion regarding Plaintiffs work
capacity from an ...