United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Honorable Bruce H. 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 Laura Wilson'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 Kevin F. McDonald, which was made in accordance
with 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule
Report, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court affirm
the Commissioner's final decision denying benefits.
Plaintiff filed objections to the Report, and the
Commissioner 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
14 days after being served a copy). For the reasons stated
below, the Court respectfully declines to adopt the
Magistrate Judge's Report and instead remands this case
to the Commissioner for further proceedings.
applied for DIB and SSI on January 23, 2014, alleging that
she became unable to work on January 14, 2014. Her
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration,
and she requested a hearing before an administrative law
judge (“ALJ”). A hearing was held on May 6, 2016,
at which Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, appeared
and testified. At the hearing, the ALJ also heard testimony
from a vocational expert (“VE”). The ALJ issued a
decision on June 17, 2016, concluding that Plaintiff was not
disabled from her alleged disability onset date through the
date of the decision.
was 56 years old on the alleged disability onset date and 58
years old at the time of the ALJ's decision. She has a
bachelor's degree in nursing and worked as a nurse until
her alleged disability onset date.
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
The 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 defined as:
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. ...