United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Cheryl L. Ray, Plaintiff,
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks United States District Judge.
an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
seeking judicial review of the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security's (“Commissioner”) final decision,
which denied Plaintiff Cheryl L. Ray's
(“Plaintiff”) claim for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”). The record includes the report
and recommendation (“Report”) of the United
States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker, 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.).
Report, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court affirm
the Commissioner's final decision denying benefits. After
being granted an extension of time, Plaintiff filed written
objections to the Report, and the Commissioner filed a
response 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 14 days after being
served a copy). For the reasons stated below, the Court
adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and affirms the
Commissioner's final decision denying benefits.
filed her application for DIB on March 7, 2012, alleging
disability beginning on October 2, 2002. Her application was
denied initially and upon reconsideration. On August 1, 2014,
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Richard L. Vogel
held a hearing at which Plaintiff appeared. The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on September 11, 2014. Subsequently, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
making the ALJ's decision denying benefits the final
decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review.
23, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a 54-page Report, which
includes a thorough recitation of the facts and medical
evidence. The Court incorporates by specific reference the
facts and medical evidence contained in the Report and does
not repeat this information in this order except to the
extent necessary to address Plaintiff's objections.
The Magistrate Judge's Report
Court conducts a de novo review to those portions of the
Report to which a specific objection is made, and this Court
may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendations contained in the Report. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). Any written objection must specifically identify
the portion of the Report to which the objection is made and
the basis for the objection. Id.
Judicial Review of a Final Decision
federal judiciary plays a limited role in the administrative
scheme as established by the Social Security Act. 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). “Consequently, judicial review
. . . of a final decision regarding disability benefits is
limited to determining whether the findings are supported by
substantial evidence and whether the correct law was
applied.” Walls v. Barnhart, 296 F.3d 287, 290
(4th Cir. 2002). “Substantial evidence” is
evidence which a reasoning mind would accept as sufficient to
support a particular conclusion. It consists of more than a
mere scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat less than a
preponderance. If there is evidence to justify a refusal to
direct a verdict were the case before a jury, then there is
Shively v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 987, 989 (4th Cir.
1984) (quoting Laws v. Celebreeze, 368 F.2d 640, 642
(4th Cir. 1966)). In assessing whether substantial evidence
exists, the reviewing court should not “undertake to
re-weigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute [its] judgment for that
of” the agency. ...