United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Richard Mark Gergel United States District Judge
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
and 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). In accordance
with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 DSC,
this matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge
for pre-trial handling. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report
and Recommendation ("R & R") on March 9, 2018,
recommending that the Commissioner's decision be
affirmed. (Dkt. No. 20). Plaintiff timely filed objections to
the R & R. (Dkt. No. 24). After a careful review of the
decision of the Commissioner, the objections of Plaintiff,
the record in this matter and the relevant legal authorities,
the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge ably addressed the
factual and legal issues in this matter and correctly
concluded that the decision of the Commissioner should be
affirmed. Therefore, as set forth below, the Court adopts the
R & R of the Magistrate Judge as the order of the Court,
affirms the decision of the Commissioner, and dismisses this
action with prejudice.
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. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the Report and Recommendation to which
specific objection is made. The Court may accept, reject, or
modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
role of the federal judiciary in the administrative scheme
established by the Social Security Act is a limited one. The
Act provides that 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 innumerable times
as more than a scintilla, but less than preponderance."
Thomas v. Celebrezze, 331 F.2d 541, 543 (4th Cir.
1964). This standard precludes de novo review of the
factual circumstances that substitutes the Court's
findings of fact for those of the Commissioner. Vitek v.
Finch, 438 F.2d 1157, 1157 (4th Cir. 1971).
the federal court's review role is a limited one,
"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). Further, the Commissioner's findings of fact
are not binding if they were based upon the application of an
improper legal standard. Coffman v. Bowen, 829 F.2d
514, 519 (4th Cir. 1987).
objections center on the determination of the Administrative
Law Judge ("ALJ") that she retained the residual
functional capacity to perform less than the full scope of
light work. Plaintiff argues that her degenerative joint
disease and obesity with associated pain rendered her
incapable of standing 6 hours in an 8 hour day, an essential
element of the performance of light work. The ALJ carefully
analyzed the entire record and noted numerous instances where
the Plaintiff was documented by her treating physicians at
the Fetter Family Health Center to have limited or no joint
pain and any complaints of pain were treated with over the
counter medications. Tr. 17-19. A review by the Court of the
Plaintiff s medical record confirmed numerous instances where
she was documented by her treating providers to have normal
range of motion, muscle strength and stability in all
extremities and no or mild pain. Tr. 741, 759, 761, 762, 764,
765, 772, 774. The record also contains a consulting
examination, in which Plaintiff is documented to have normal
range of motion in her knees, hips, and ankles with normal
gait and station. Tr. 729-731. A non-examining and
non-treating physician concluded that the Plaintiffs record
demonstrated she had the RFC for light work. Tr. 63-66. As
the Magistrate Judge observed, no treating, examining or
non-examining physician offered the opinion that Plaintiffs
impairments permanently prevented her from performing light
work. (Dkt. No. 20at 10).
makes much of her treating physician completing a form for a
handicap permit. The office visit references the need for a
handicap permit because the patient gets shortness of breath
from prolonged walking after having a deep vein thrombosis in
her right leg. A physical examination performed on Plaintiff
that very same day demonstrated normal range of motion in all
extremities with no pain. Tr. 757-760.
record, taken as a whole, provides substantial evidence to
support the findings and conclusion of the Commissioner and
adequately addresses Plaintiffs impairments in the RFC. The
record does contain some conflicting evidence, and it is the
duty of the fact finder, in this case the Commissioner, to
address that conflicting evidence and to make appropriate
findings. The agency's decision addresses the conflicting
evidence and provides an adequate and reasonable explanation
for the Commissioner's determination.
upon the foregoing, the Court ADOPTS the R
& R of the Magistrate Judge as the order of the Court,
AFFIRMS the decision of the ...