United States District Court, D. South Carolina
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRISTOW MARCHANT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff filed the complaint in this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner wherein he was denied disability
benefits. This case was referred to the undersigned for a
report and recommendation pursuant to Local Civil Rule
applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) on March 10,
2014, alleging disability beginning September 10, 2013 due to
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety,
fatigue, diabetes, high cholesterol, nerve damage from being
shot, and severe diarrhea. (R.pp. 149-150, 173, 212, 214).
Plaintiff's claim was denied both initially and upon
reconsideration. Plaintiff then requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on April 6,
2016. (R.pp. 34-60). In a prehearing brief, Plaintiff amended
his alleged onset date from September 10, 2013 to January 26,
2014. (R.pp. 347-350). The ALJ thereafter denied
Plaintiff's claim in a decision dated June 10, 2016.
(R.pp. 8-33). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for a review of the ALJ's decision, thereby
making the determination of the ALJ the final decision of the
Commissioner. (R.pp. 1-5). Plaintiff then filed this action
in United States District Court. Plaintiff asserts that there
is not substantial evidence to support the ALJ's
decision, and that the decision should be reversed and
remanded to the Commissioner for further consideration of his
claim. The Commissioner contends that the decision to deny
benefits is supported by substantial evidence, and that
Plaintiff was properly found not to be disabled.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court's scope of review is
limited to (1) whether the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence, and (2) whether the
ultimate conclusions reached by the Commissioner are legally
correct under controlling law. Hays v. Sullivan, 907
F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990); Richardson v.
Califano, 574 F.2d 802, 803 (4th Cir. 1978); Myers
v. Califano, 611 F.2d 980, 98 2-983 (4th Cir. 1980). If
the record contains substantial evidence to support the
Commissioner's decision, it is the court's duty to
affirm the decision. Substantial evidence has been defined
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 refusal to
direct a verdict were the case before a jury, then there is
“substantial evidence.” [emphasis added].
Hays, 907 F.2d at 1456 (citing Laws v.
Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640 (4th Cir. 1966)); see also
Hepp v. Astrue, 511 F.3d 798, 806 (8th Cir.
2008)[Nothing that the substantial evidence standard is even
“less demanding than the preponderance of the evidence
Court lacks the authority to substitute its own judgment for
that of the Commissioner. Laws, 368 F.2d at 642. “[T]he
language of [405(g)] precludes a de novo judicial proceeding
and requires that the court uphold the [Commissioner's]
decision even should the court disagree with such decision as
long as it is supported by substantial evidence.”
Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 775 (4th Cir.
medical records include the following diagnoses: On October
29, 2013, Dr. Adam D. Scher diagnosed Plaintiff with diabetes
I uncomplicated, GERD, chronic diarrhea, and PTSD. (R.pp.
367-370). On November 19, 2013, Dr. Scher diagnosed Plaintiff
with diabetes type I, PTSD, chronic diarrhea and
hyperlipidemia. (R.pp. 364-366). On December 13, 2013, Ellen
A. Norman, PA-C, of GA Gastroenterology diagnosed Plaintiff
with chronic diarrhea, history of colon polyps, uncontrolled
insulin dependent diabetes mellitus, dysphagia, and
Barrett's esophagus. (R.pp. 383-389). On December 23,
2013 and on February 17, 2014, Dr. Scher diagnosed Plaintiff
with diabetes type I, hyperlipidemia, anxiety, chronic
diarrhea, and PTSD. (R.pp. 355-357, 361-363). On April 16,
2014, Dr. Scher diagnosed Plaintiff with diabetes type I,
chronic diarrhea, PTSD, dyspnea on exertion, chest pain, and
fatigue. (R.pp. 397-400). On June 17, 2014, Dr. Tony Goodbar
diagnosed Plaintiff with PTSD, major depression, single
episode, moderate, and assigned Plaintiff a GAF score of
(R.pp. 409-410). On July 14, 2014, Dr. Goodbar diagnosed
Plaintiff with PTSD and major depression. (R.pp. 453-454).
16, 2014, Bruce A. Kofoed, Ph.D. performed a consultative
examination of the Plaintiff at the Commissioner's
request and diagnosed him with probable PTSD v. anxiety not
otherwise specified, depressive disorder not otherwise
specified, a gunshot wound to the hand and the throat during
a bank robbery in 2008 in which he was a bystander,
diabetes, frequent gastrointestinal distress, and diarrhea.
October 13, 2014, November 3, 2014, December 9, 2014,
February 5, 2015, and March 10, 2015, Dr. Goodbar diagnosed
Plaintiff with PTSD and major depression. (R.pp. 455-456,
459-460, 464-465, 468-469). On February 5, 2015, and June 9,
2015, Dr. Goodbar diagnosed Plaintiff with PTSD and
depression, moderate. (R.pp. 466-467, 470-471).
10, 2015, Ali L. Whitten, a physician's assistant at
Travelers Rest Family Medicine, diagnosed Plaintiff with
uncontrolled diabetes type I, PTSD, hyperlipidemia,
hypertension, gastroesophageal reflux disease, vitamin D
deficiency, diabetic neuropathy, and insomnia. (R.pp.
515-519). On July 9, 2015, Ms. Whitten diagnosed Plaintiff
with uncontrolled diabetes type I and diabetic neuropathy.
August 5, 2015, January 21, 2016, and February 18, 2016, Dr.
Goodbar diagnosed Plaintiff with PTSD and major ...