United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Bryan Harwell United States District Judge
Prince Wilson has brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his claim for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income (“SSI”). This matter
is now before the Court for review of the Report and
Recommendation (“R & R”) of United States
Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin, made in accordance with
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil Rules
73.02(B)(2)(a) and 83.VII.02 (D.S.C.). [ECF # 17]. The
Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court reverse and remand
the Commissioner's final decision for further
administrative action. [ECF #17, p. 1]. On April 25, 2018,
the Commissioner filed a notice that she would not be filing
objections to the R&R. [ECF #18]. This Court has
thoroughly reviewed the record in this case. This Court
agrees with the Magistrate Judge that the Commissioner's
decision must be reversed and remanded consistent with this
Judicial Review of the Commissioner's Findings
federal judiciary has a limited role in the administrative
scheme established by the Social Security Act, which provides
the Commissioner's findings “shall be
conclusive” if they are “supported by substantial
evidence.” 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).
Substantial evidence “means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971).
statutorily mandated 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, 1157-58 (4th Cir. 1971); Hicks
v. Gardner, 393 F.2d 299, 302 (4th Cir. 1968). The Court
must uphold the Commissioner's factual findings “if
they are supported by substantial evidence and were reached
through application of the correct legal standard.”
Hancock v. Astrue, 667 F.3d 470, 472 (4th Cir.
2012); see also Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773,
775 (4th Cir. 1972) (stating that even if the Court disagrees
with the Commissioner's decision, the Court must uphold
the decision if substantial evidence supports it). This
standard of review does not require, however, mechanical
acceptance of the Commissioner's findings. Flack v.
Cohen, 413 F.2d 278, 279 (4th Cir. 1969). The Court
“must not abdicate [its] responsibility to give careful
scrutiny to the whole record to assure that there is a sound
foundation for the [Commissioner]'s findings, and that
[her] conclusion is rational.” Vitek, 438 F.2d
The Court's Review of the Magistrate Judge's Report
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the 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, 270-71
(1976). The Court must conduct a de novo review of those
portions of the R & R to which specific objections are
made, and it 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. § 636(b)(1);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Neither party has filed objections to the
R & R, and the time for doing so has
expired. In the absence of objections to the R
& R, the Court is not required to give any explanation
for adopting the Magistrate Judge's recommendations.
See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199-200 (4th Cir.
1983). The Court reviews only for clear error in the absence
of an objection. See Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (stating
that “in the absence of a timely filed objection, a
district court need not conduct 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'” (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory
Magistrate Judge recommends remanding this case for further
administrative action based upon the Plaintiff's
arguments in supporting a finding that he has been disabled
since January 30, 2011. Under the five step sequential
process under the Social Security Act, if a claimant can
demonstrate at Step Three that he meets the requirements for
one of the listed impairments, that claimant has established
his right to disability benefits. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(iii); 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. In
recommending that this case be remanded for a second time,
the Magistrate Judge determined that the ALJ's reasons
for determining that Plaintiff did not meet the
qualifications for disability under Listing 12.05 were not
consistent with the law, and thus, not supported by
substantial evidence. Indeed, this Court finds the ALJ's
lack of a full and adequate explanation for rejecting
Plaintiff's claim for disability based upon this
Court's initial remand troubling. Therefore, this Court
agrees with the Magistrate Judge that remand is necessary to
properly address Plaintiff's RFC, along with
Plaintiff's other allegations of error, including whether
he meets the requirements for Listing 12.05, particularly in
light of the recent revisions to the Listings.
thorough review of the record in this case, the Court finds
no clear error and therefore adopts and incorporates by
reference the Magistrate Judge's R & R. [ECF #17].
Accordingly, pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), the Court REVERSES AND REMANDS the
Commissioner's final decision for further administrative
action consistent with the R & R.
IS SO ORDERED.