United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
Timothy M. Cain United States District Judge
plaintiff, Sharon Wilson (“Wilson”), brought this
action pursuant to the Social Security Act
(“SSA”), Section 205(g), as amended, 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”), denying her claim for
child's supplemental security income (“SSI”)
on behalf of her son, MJS. (ECF No. 1). In accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a),
D.S.C., this matter was referred to a magistrate judge for
pretrial handling. Before this court is the magistrate
judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”),
recommending that the court affirm the Commissioner's
decision. (ECF No. 25). Wilson filed objections to the Report
(ECF No. 27), and the Commissioner responded to those
objections (ECF No. 29). Accordingly, this matter is now ripe
applied for SSI on behalf of her child, MJS, on April 14,
2011, alleging a disability beginning on February 1, 2009.
(ECF No. 19 at 2). Wilson's application was denied
initially, upon reconsideration, and by the Administrative
Law Judge's (“ALJ”) decision on September 13,
2013. (ECF No. 15-2 at 22). The Appeals Council remanded for
further proceedings in 2015, and a hearing was held on
October 22, 2015 before an ALJ. Id. The mother and
child both testified at the hearing. Id. The ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on December 23, 2015, finding
that MJS was not disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act. Id. Wilson filed a request for review
of the ALJ decision. Id. The Appeals Council denied
this request for review on November 1, 2016, making the
ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision.
Id. Wilson filed this action on November 28, 2016,
seeking review of the Commissioner's final decision. (ECF
decision, the ALJ found that MJS has never engaged in
substantial gainful activity and that he suffers from the
following severe impairments: attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). (ECF
No. 15-2 at 25). The ALJ found that, despite MJS's
limitations, he does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart B,
Appendix 1. Id. Furthermore, the ALJ found that MJS
does not have an impairment that functionally equals the
severity of the listings in 20 CFR 416.924(d) or in
416.926(a). Id. Wilson sought review of her case (on
behalf of her son) by the Appeals Council. The Appeals
Council denied Wilson's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
(Tr. 1-6). This action followed.
federal judiciary has a limited role in the administrative
scheme established by the SSA. Section 405(g) of the Act
provides, “the 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 . . . as
more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.”
Thomas v. Celebrezze, 331 F.2d 541, 543 (4th Cir.
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). Thus, in its
review, the court may not “undertake to re-weigh
conflicting evidence, make credibility determinations, or
substitute [its] own judgment for that of the
[Commissioner].” Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585,
589 (4th Cir. 1996).
“[f]rom this it does not follow . . . 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
agency.” Flack v. Cohen, 413 F.2d 278, 279
(4th Cir. 1969). Rather, “the 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 this conclusion is
rational.” Vitek, 438 F.2d at 1157-58.
appeal of the Commissioner's decision, Wilson argues that
the ALJ erred in failing to find marked limitations in the
domains of “Attending and Completing Tasks” and
“Interacting and Relating with Others, ” or, in
the alternative, in failing to find an extreme limitation in
the domain of “Interacting and Relating with
Others.” (ECF No. 19 at 6). Likewise, Wilson's
objections only focused on these two domains. (ECF No. 27).
objections to the Report, Wilson contends that the magistrate
judge and the ALJ erred by finding that the mixed and
contradictory assessments of MJS's condition provided
substantial evidence that supported the Commissioner's
decision. (ECF No. 27 at 1). Wilson further contends that the
magistrate judge's Report “constitute[d] merely a
recital of the evidence favorable to the Commissioner and
does not examine the entire record as required.” (ECF
No. 27 at 3). The court finds that Wilson's remaining
objections merely repeat the arguments that she raised to the
magistrate judge. See Nichols v. Colvin, No.
2:14-cv-50, 2015 UL 1185894, at *8 (E.D. Va. Mar. 13, 2015)
(finding that the rehashing of arguments raised to the
magistrate judge does not comply with the requirement to file
specific objections). Therefore, this discussion focuses only
on Wilson's two specific objections.
Wilson alleges that the magistrate judge and the ALJ erred in
finding that the mixed and contradictory assessments of
MJS's condition provided substantial evidence that
supported the Commissioner's decision. (ECF No. 27 at 1).
Wilson contends that while the evidence conflicts in some
instances that these contradictions favor a decision of MJS
being disabled. (ECF No. 27 at 2).
court is not charged with conducting a de novo review of the
facts of the case and determining the weight it would give
each contradicting assessment. In fact, on review of this
issue, this court must not “undertake to re-weigh
conflicting evidence, make credibility determinations, or
substitute [its] own judgment ...