United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Rock Hill Division
Timothy M. Cain United States District Judge
Robert Scott McKelvey (“McKelvey”) brought this
action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review
of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying his claim for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) under the Social
Security Act (“SSA”). (ECF No. 1). This matter is
before the court for review of the Report and Recommendation
(“Report”) of the United States Magistrate Judge,
made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a), D.S.C., concerning the disposition
of social security cases in this district. (ECF No.
The Report recommends affirming the decision of the
Commissioner to deny benefits. McKelvey timely filed
objections to the Report. (ECF No. 16), and the Commissioner
filed a reply to those objections (ECF No. 17). The court
adopts the Report and affirms the denial of benefits.
18, 2014, McKelvey filed an application for DIB, alleging
that he became unable to work on May 11, 2009, due to aback
injury. (ECF Nos. 6-5 at 2-3; 6-6 at 6). He later amended the
onset date to May 27, 2010. Id. at 23. His
application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (ECF
No. 6-4 at 6-7, 11). McKelvey requested a review by an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), id. at
17, and a hearing was held before an ALJ on December 9, 2016
(ECF No. 6-2 at 33-61).
February 22, 2017, the ALJ denied McKelvey's claims
finding him not disabled under the SSA. Id. at
15-27. The ALJ found that McKelvey suffered from the
following serious impairments: lumbar disorder, status-post
surgeries, diabetes, obesity, and hypogonadism. Id.
at 17. However, the ALJ found that McKelvey's impairments
did not meet or were not medically equal to the criteria for
any of the listed impairments. Id. at 18. The ALJ
then proceeded to assess McKelvey's residual functional
capacity (“RFC”). Id. at 18-25. The ALJ
found that McKelvey could perform light work with certain
limitations. Id. at 18. The ALJ found McKelvey could
not return to his past relevant work, but could perform other
jobs in existence in the national economy in significant
numbers and, therefore, denied his claims. Id. at
October 16, 2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the
ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 6-2 at 2-4). McKelvey filed this
action for judicial review on December 5, 2017. (ECF No. 1).
In the Report, the magistrate judge sets forth the relevant
facts and legal standards, which are incorporated here by
reference. McKelvey filed objections to the Report on
December 4, 2018 (ECF No. 16), and the Commissioner filed a
response to those objections on December 12, 2018 (ECF No.
17). This matter is now ripe for review.
Standard of Review
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.
purpose of magistrate review is to conserve judicial
resources. United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616,
622 (4th Cir. 2007). This court is to conduct a de novo
review of any portion of the magistrate judge's Report to
which specific, written objections are made. See 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (“A judge of the court shall
make a de novo determination of those portions of the report
or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made.”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2) (“[A]
party may serve and file specific written objections to the
proposed findings and recommendations.” (emphasis
added)). “A party's objection to a magistrate
judge's report must be “specific and
particularized” in order to facilitate review by a
district court. Midgette, 478 F.3d at 621. “An
‘objection' that does nothing more than state a
disagreement with a magistrate's suggested resolution, or
simply summarizes what has been presented before, is not an
‘objection' as that term is used in this
context.” Aldrich v. Bock, 327 F.Supp.2d 743,
747 (E.D. Mich. 2004). Thus, a de novo review is wholly
unnecessary for a district court to undertake when a party
seeks to rehash general arguments that were already addressed
in a magistrate judge's report. See Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); see also
Dandy v. Berryhill, 6:17-cv-331-BHH, 2018 WL 4610757
(D.S.C. Sept. 26, 2018); Butler v. Berryhill, No.
4:16-cv-03209-JMC, 2018 WL 1556188, at *1 n.3 (D.S.C. Mar.
30, 2018) (“The court does not need to conduct a de
novo review of objections presented in the form of
‘[complete statements] of arguments already made, . . .
as these objections never cite specific conclusions of the
[report] that are erroneous.' ” (quoting Smith
v. City of N. Charleston, 401 F.Supp.2d 530, 533 (D.S.C.
objections, as pointed out by the Commissioner, McKelvey
simply rehashes the arguments he made in his opening brief.
(ECF No. 17 at 2). Moreover, as the magistrate judge pointed
out, McKelvey also used the argument section of his opening
brief quoted verbatim to reply to the Commissioner's
response. (Report at 1 n.1). McKelvey's objections, which
are nothing more than a rehashing for the third time of the
arguments made in his opening brief, do not specifically
direct the court's attention to any specific error in the
Report. Therefore, the court is not required to conduct a de
novo review. Along with the record and the parties'
pleadings, the court has carefully reviewed the Report for
clear error. The court finds that the magistrate judge
properly addressed McKelvey's arguments, and, finding no
clear error, the court adopts the Report.
thorough review of the record, the court adopts the Report
(ECF No. 15) and the ...