United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Robin D. Kinsey, Plaintiff,
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
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 Robin D. Kinsey's
(“Plaintiff”) claim for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”). The record includes the report
and recommendation (“Report”) of United States
Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin, 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
reverse the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and remand the case
to the Commissioner for further administrative action. The
Commissioner filed objections to the Report, and Plaintiff
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 overrules
the Commissioner's objections.
filed an application for DIB on March 30, 2010, alleging
disability beginning on December 30, 2009. Her application
was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”), which was held on March 1, 2012. On
April 26, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying
Plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff requested review, but the
Appeals Council denied review on April 23, 2013, making the
ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision for
purposes of judicial review. Plaintiff filed an action
seeking judicial review on June 24, 2013, and on November 13,
2014, the Court remanded the case for further proceedings.
February 25, 2016, the ALJ held a subsequent hearing. On
August 12, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision again finding that
Plaintiff was not disabled. Plaintiff did not file exceptions
with the Appeals Council and instead filed this action on
November 18, 2016.
was 46 years old on her application date and 50 years old on
her date last insured. She completed high school and two
years of college, and she has past relevant work performing
secretarial and clerical work at NuTek Associates.
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. ...