United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DENIAL OF PLAINTIFF'S CLAIM FOR
GEIGER LEWIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a Social Security appeal in which Plaintiff seeks judicial
review of the final decision of Defendant denying her claim
for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB). The parties are
represented by excellent counsel. The matter is before the
Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (Report) of
the United States Magistrate Judge suggesting to the Court
Defendant's decision denying Plaintiff's claim for
DIB be affirmed. The Report was made in accordance with 28
U.S.C. § 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the District
of South Carolina.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of
those portions of the Report to which specific objection is
made, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole
or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge or
recommit the matter with instructions. 28 U.S.C. §
Magistrate Judge filed the Report on October 16, 2017. ECF
No. 27. Plaintiff filed objections on October 31, 2017, ECF
No. 28, and Defendant replied on November 9, 2017, ECF No.
29. The Court has carefully reviewed Plaintiff's
objections but holds them to be meritless. Therefore, it will
enter judgment accordingly.
filed her application for DIB in April 2011, asserting her
disability commenced on March 24, 2011. Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
The administrative law judge (ALJ) conducted a hearing on
Plaintiff's application on January 31, 2013. On June 13,
2013, the ALJ issued a decision holding Plaintiff was not
disabled under the Social Security Act (the Act). The Appeals
Council subsequently denied Plaintiff's request for
review of the ALJ's decision, and Plaintiff appealed to
Defendant's motion and without objection from Plaintiff,
this Court remanded the case to Defendant under sentence six
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) on March 2, 2015. The Appeals
Council vacated the ALJ's 2013 decision, and the ALJ held
a second hearing to review Plaintiff's application on
February 5, 2016. The ALJ issued a decision on July 26, 2016,
holding once again Plaintiff was not disabled. Upon
Defendant's motion and with Plaintiff's consent, this
Court reopened the case on December 12, 2016.
Social Security Administration has established a five-step
sequential evaluation process for determining whether a
person is disabled. 20 C.F.R. '' 404.1520(a),
416.920(a). The five steps are: (1) whether the claimant is
currently engaging in substantial gainful activity; (2)
whether the claimant has a medically determinable severe
impairment(s); (3) whether such impairment(s) meets or equals
an impairment set forth in the Listings; (4) whether the
impairment(s) prevents the claimant from returning to his
past relevant work; and, if so, (5) whether the claimant is
able to perform other work as it exists in the national
economy. 20 C.F.R. '' 404.1520(a)(4)(I)-(v),
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), a district court is required to
conduct a de novo review of those portions of the Magistrate
Judge's Report to which a specific objection has been
made. The Court need not conduct a de novo review, however,
Awhen a party makes general and conclusory objections that do
not direct the court to a specific error in the [Magistrate
Judge's] proposed findings and recommendations.”
Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982);
see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). Thus, the Court will
address each specific objection to the Report in turn. As
provided above, however, the Court need not-and will
not-address any of Plaintiff's arguments that fail to
point the Court to alleged specific errors the Magistrate
Judge made in the Report.
Plaintiff's duty both to produce evidence and to prove
she is disabled under the Act. See Pass v. Chater,
65 F.3d 1200, 1203 (4th Cir. 1995). And, it is the duty of
the ALJ, not this Court, to make findings of fact and to
resolve conflicts in the evidence. Hays v. Sullivan,
907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Under the substantial
evidence standard, however, the Court must view the entire
record as a whole. See Steurer v. Bowen, 815 F.2d,
1249, 1250 (8th Cir. 1987).
the substantial evidence standard presupposes a zone of
choice within which the decisionmakers can go either way,
without interference by the courts. An administrative
decision is not subject to reversal merely because
substantial evidence would have supported an opposite
decision.” Clarke v. Bowen, 843 F.2d 271,
272-73 (8th Cir. 1988) (citations omitted) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (alteration omitted). Likewise, when
considering a Social Security disability claim, it is not the
province of this Court to “reweigh conflicting evidence
. . . or substitute [its] judgment for that of the
ALJ.” Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650, 653
(4th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (citation omitted) (alteration
omitted). The Court Amust sustain the ALJ's decision,
even if [it] disagree[s] with it, provided the determination
is supported by substantial evidence.” Smith v.
Chater, 99 F.3d 635, 638 (4th Cir. 1996).
objections primarily constitute a rehashing of the arguments
she presented in her brief. Plaintiff phrases her objection
to the Report as follows:
1Residual Functional Capacity. The RFC assessment
must be a reasoned assessment of all of the relevant
evidence. In this case the ALJ's RFC discussion precludes
vocationally relevant limitations. Where the ALJ fails to
reconcile all of the evidence, is it proper for the
Magistrate Judge to allow the decision to stand?
28 at 1. The issue Plaintiff framed and addressed in her
brief in support of her appeal was:
Issue 1Residual Functional Capacity. The RFC
assessment must be a reasoned assessment of all of the
relevant evidence. In this case the ALJ's RFC discussion
precludes vocationally relevant limitations. Can an ALJ's
RFC that fails to ...