United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND
AFFIRMING DEFENDANT BERRYHILL'S DECISION DENYING
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a Social Security appeal in which Plaintiff Ricky Temple
Campbell seeks judicial review of the final decision of
Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill denying his claim for disability
insurance benefits (DIB). The matter is before the Court for
review of the Report and Recommendation (Report) of the
United States Magistrate Judge suggesting Berryhill's
final decision denying Campbell's DIB claim be affirmed.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo determination of
those portions of the Report to which specific objection is
made, and the Court 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. §
Magistrate Judge filed the Report on March 28, 2018, Campbell
filed his objections on April 4, 2018, and Berryhill filed
her reply on April 17, 2018. The Court has reviewed the
objections, but holds them to be without merit. Therefore, it
will enter judgment accordingly.
February 6, 2014, Campbell filed his application for DIB. He
contends his disability, which he states commenced on
September 2, 2013, is caused by neck problems, back problems,
hearing loss, depression, shoulder problems, arthritis, and
bursitis. Berryhill denied Campbell's application
initially and upon reconsideration. Campbell then requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which the
ALJ conducted on April 19, 2016.
3, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision holding Campbell was
disabled beginning April 19, 2016, one month before he
reached the advanced age of fifty-five, 20 C.F.R. §
404.1563(e), but held he was not disabled before that date.
The Appeals Council denied Campbell's request for review
of the ALJ's decision. Campbell then filed an action for
judicial review with this Court.
Agency has established a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining if a person is disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a). The five steps are: (1)
whether the claimant is currently engaging in substantial
gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a medically
determinable severe impairment(s); (3) whether such
impairment(s) meets or equals an impairment set forth in the
Listings; (4) whether the impairment(s) prevents the claimant
from returning to his past relevant work; and, if so, (5)
whether the claimant is able to perform other work as it
exists in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), a district court is required to
conduct a de novo review of those portions of the Magistrate
Judge's Report to which a specific objection has been
made. The Court need not conduct a de novo review, however,
“when a party makes general and conclusory objections
that do not direct the court to a specific error in the
[Magistrate Judge's] proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).
the plaintiff's duty both to produce evidence and prove
he is disabled under the Act. See Pass v. Chater, 65
F.3d 1200, 1203 (4th Cir. 1995). Nevertheless, the ALJ is to
develop the record and when he “fails in his duty to
fully inquire into the issues necessary for adequate
development of the record, and such failure is prejudicial to
the claimant, the case should be remanded.” Marsh
v. Harris, 632 F.2d 296, 300 (4th Cir. 1980).
also the task of the ALJ, not this Court, to make findings of
fact and resolve conflicts in the evidence. Hays v.
Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). “It
is not within the province of this [C]ourt to determine the
weight of the evidence; nor is it [the Court's] function
to substitute [its] judgment for that of [the defendant] if
[the] decision is supported by substantial evidence.”
Laws v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir.
1966). In other words, the Court “must sustain the
ALJ's decision, even if [it] disagree[s] with it,
provided the determination is supported by substantial
evidence.” Smith v. Chater, 99 F.3d 635, 638
(4th Cir. 1996). Under the substantial evidence standard, the
Court must view the entire record as a whole. See Steurer
v. Bowen, 815 F.2d, 1249, 1250 (8th Cir. 1987).
ALJ must sufficiently explain the reasons for their rulings
to allow this Court to provide meaningful review, Radford
v. Colvin, 734 F.3d 288, 296 (4th Cir. 2013), “the
ALJ is not required to address every piece of evidence[;]
[instead, ] he must . . . build an accurate and logical
bridge from the evidence to his conclusion.”
Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 872 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted). The Court's “general practice,
which [it] see[s] no reason to depart from here, is to take a
lower tribunal at its word when it declares that it has
considered a matter.” Hackett v. Barnhart, 395
F.3d 1168, 1173 (10th Cir.2005).
substantial evidence standard presupposes a zone of choice
within which the decisionmakers can go either way, without
interference by the courts. An administrative decision is not
subject to reversal merely because substantial evidence would
have supported an opposite decision.” Clarke v.
Bowen, 843 F.2d 271, 272-73 (8th Cir. 1988) (citations
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted) (alteration
omitted). Put differently, if the ALJ's
“dispositive factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence, they must be affirmed, even in cases
where contrary findings of an ALJ might also be so
supported.” Kellough v. Heckler, 785 F.2d
1147, 1149 (4th Cir. 1986).
lists five specific objections to the Report. Objections one,
two, and four are closely related. Thus, the Court will
address them together.
Campbell states “[t]he Magistrate Judge erroneously
determined . . . the ALJ's [residual functional capacity
[(RFC)] assessment of [Campbell] was based on substantial
evidence in the record.” Objections 1. Second, he
objects to the Magistrate Judge's failure to find fault
with the ALJ's allegedly “over-assessing [his]
residual functional capacity.” Id. at 3. And
in Campbell's fourth objection, he maintains the
Magistrate Judge erred in not suggesting the ...