United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff, Keyla Elaine Derrick (“Derrick”),
brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act
(“SSA”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”), denying her
claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
and for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). In
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Civil
Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), D.S.C., this matter was referred to a
magistrate judge for pretrial handling. Before this court is
the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation
(“Report”), recommending that the court affirm
the Commissioner's decision. (ECF No. 17). In the Report,
the magistrate judge sets forth the relevant facts and legal
standards, which are incorporated herein by reference.
Derrick filed objections to the Report (ECF No. 18), and the
Commissioner filed a response to those objections (ECF No.
20). Accordingly, this matter is now ripe for review.
applied for SSI on April 12, 2013, and for DIB on April 15,
2013, alleging disability beginning on February 11, 2013.
(ECF No. 17 at 1). Derrick's application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Id. On October 14,
2015, an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) heard
testimony from Derrick and a vocational expert. Id.
On October 30, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying
Derrick's claim. Id. at 1-2.
decision, the ALJ found that Derrick suffered from the
following severe impairments: degenerative disk disease with
cervical, thoracic, and lumbar scoliosis; anemia; and chronic
venous insufficiency with varicose veins. Id. at 12.
The ALJ found that, despite Derrick's limitations, jobs
existed in significant numbers in the national economy that
he could perform. Id. Derrick sought review of her
case by the Appeals Council. On December 2, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied Derrick's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
(ECF No. 10-2 at 2-7). The present action followed.
federal judiciary has a limited role in the administrative
scheme established by the SSA. Section 405(g) of the Act
provides, “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 . . . as
more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.”
Thomas v. Celebrezze, 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). Thus, in its
review, the court may not “undertake to re-weigh
conflicting evidence, make credibility determinations, or
substitute [its] own judgment for that of the
[Commissioner].” Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585,
589 (4th Cir. 1996).
“[f]rom this it does not follow . . . 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
agency.” Flack v. Cohen, 413 F.2d 278, 279
(4th Cir. 1969). Rather, “the 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 this conclusion is
rational.” Vitek, 438 F.2d at 1157-58.
objections, Derrick contends that the magistrate judge erred
by finding that substantial evidence supported (1) the
ALJ's evaluation of the medical opinion evidence, (2) the
ALJ's residual functioning capacity (“RFC”)
findings, and (3) the ALJ's analysis of Derrick's
Derrick argues that the ALJ erred by improperly discounting
the opinion of Lindsay Hammett, a family nurse practitioner
(“FNP”). (ECF No. 18 at 1). She argues that the
ALJ did not analyze Hammett's opinion pursuant to Social
Security Ruling (“SSR”) 06-03p, that the opinion
was more than an administrative finding, and that other notes
from the record should support the opinion in question.
Id. Derrick reiterates largely the same argument
that was presented to and addressed by the magistrate judge,
asserting that the magistrate judge failed to adequately
address the argument. (ECF Nos. 14 at 17-20, 17 at 13-17, and
18 at 1-4). However, objections to the magistrate judge's
Report are not a subsequent opportunity to reargue the merits
of a case-they are an opportunity to demonstrate to this
Court particular errors in the magistrate judge's
reasoning. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Craig, 76 F.3d at 589; Nichols v. Colvin,
No. 2:14-cv-50, 2015 WL 1185894, at *8 (E.D. Va. Mar. 13,
2015) (stating that “a mere restatement of the
arguments raised in the summary judgment filings does not
constitute an ‘objection' for the purposes of
district court review.” (citation omitted)). The court
agrees with the magistrate judge's assessment.
parties acknowledge that at the time that Derrick's claim
was filed and at the time of the ALJ's decision, FNPs
were not “acceptable medical
sources.” (ECF Nos. 14 at 18 and 15 at 12). SSR
06-03p, 2006 WL 2329939 (Aug. 9, 2006) addresses the
significance of the distinction between “acceptable
medical sources” and “other sources” as
The distinction between “acceptable medical
sources” and other health care providers who are not
“acceptable medical sources” is necessary for
three reasons. First, we need evidence from “acceptable
medical sources” to establish the existence of a
medically determinable impairment. See 20 [C.F.R.
§§] 404.1513(a) and 416.913(a). Second, only
“acceptable medical sources” can give us medical
opinions. See 20 [C.F.R. §§]
404.1527(a)(2) and 416.927(a)(2). Third, only
“acceptable medical sources” can be considered
treating sources, as defined in 20 [C.F.R. ...