United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
C. Coggins, Jr., Judge
proceeding pro se, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision on
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying his claim for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSA”) under the Social Security
Act. In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2), (D.S.C.), this matter was referred to
United States Magistrate Judge Mary Gordon Baker for
pre-trial proceedings and a Report and Recommendation
(“Report”). On December 28, 2017,  the Magistrate
Judge issued a Report recommending that the
Commissioner's decision be affirmed. ECF No. 31. On
February 12, 2018, Plaintiff filed objections to the Report.
ECF No. 39. The Commissioner filed a Reply on February 22,
2018. ECF No. 40. For the reasons stated below, the Court
adopts the Report and affirms the decision of the
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. See Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of
any portion of the Report of the Magistrate Judge to which a
specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation made by the
Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter to the Magistrate
Judge with instructions. See U.S.C. § 636(b).
The Court will review the Report only for clear error in the
absence of an objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005) (stating that “in the absence of timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de
novo review, but instead must only satisfy itself that
there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation.” (citation omitted)).
role of the federal judiciary in the administrative scheme
established by the Social Security Act (“the
Act”) is a limited one. Section 205(g) of the Act
provides, “[t]he findings of the Secretary 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. Celebreeze, 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). The court must
uphold the Commissioner's decision as long as it was
supported by substantial evidence and reached through the
application of the correct legal standard. Johnson v.
Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650 (4th Cir. 2005). “From this
it does not follow, however, 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
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, and that his conclusion is
rational.” Vitek, 438 F.2d at 1157-58.
applied for DIB and SSI on June 6, 2012. Plaintiff's
applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration.
On November 6, 2013, a hearing was held before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ
explained how to obtain legal counsel to Plaintiff and
continued the hearing to allow Plaintiff an opportunity to
retain representation. On March 19, 2014, the hearing was
reconvened and Plaintiff waived his right to be represented.
The ALJ denied Plaintiff's claims in a decision dated
August 5, 2014, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled
within the meaning of the Act. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision,
making the determination of the ALJ the final decision of the
Commissioner. Plaintiff filed this action on August 7, 2016.
only issued raised in Plaintiff's brief and in his
objections is the allegation that Plaintiff was not able to
enter all of his medical evidence in the record. The
Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court affirm the
Commissioner's decision because Plaintiff failed to show
that the ALJ's development of the record resulted in any
unfairness or prejudice. Upon review of the Report, the
record, and the applicable law, the Court agrees with the
Magistrate's analysis of this issues and incorporates by
reference her discussion of Plaintiff's allegation.
Accordingly, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objection,
adopts and incorporates the Report and Recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge, and affirms the decision of the
The Magistrate inadvertently failed to
include a Notice of Right to File Objections when the Report
was initially sent to Plaintiff. Accordingly, the Report was