United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division
TIMOTHY M. CAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Nancy Sisco (“Sisco”) 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 her claim for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental
security income (“SSI”) 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. Id. Sisco timely
filed objections to the Report (ECF No. 38), and the
Commissioner filed a reply to those objections (ECF No. 39).
The court adopts the Report and affirms the denial of
January 28, 2014, Sisco filed an application for DIB and SSI,
alleging that she became unable to work on November 6, 2013,
due to bipolar disorder, manic depression, diabetic high
blood pressure, and plantar fascitis. (ECF No. 21-5 at 258).
Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration.
(ECF No. 21-2 at 2, 31). Sisco requested a review by an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), id. at
9, and a hearing was held before an ALJ on February 17, 2017
(ECF No. 21-2 at 55).
March 29, 2017, the ALJ denied Sisco's claims finding her
not disabled under the SSA. Id. at 31-48. The ALJ
found that Sisco suffered from the following serious
impairments: spine disorder, dysfunction of the major joints,
bipolar I disorder, depressive disorder, generalized anxiety
disorder, left upper extremity carpal tunnel syndrome,
diabetes mellitus II, and obesity. Id. at 37.
However, the ALJ found that Sisco's impairments did not
meet or were not medically equal to the criteria for any of
the listed impairments. Id. at 38. The ALJ then
proceeded to assess Sisco's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). Id. at 40-47. The ALJ found
that Sisco could perform sedentary work with certain
limitations and that she was capable of performing her past
relevant work as a data entry clerk and accounts payable
clerk. Id. at 47. The ALJ, therefore, denied her
claims. Id. at 48. On September 11, 2017, the
Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision.
(ECF No. 21-2 at 2-5).
then filed this action for judicial review on November 13,
2017. (ECF No. 1). In the Report, the magistrate judge sets
forth the relevant facts and legal standards, which are
incorporated here by reference. Sisco filed objections to the
Report on December 31, 2018 (ECF No. 38), and the
Commissioner filed a response to those objections on January
14, 2019 (ECF No. 41). 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.
objections, Sisco contends that the ALJ erred by: (1) failing
to account for her moderate difficulties in concentration,
persistence, and pace as required by Mascio v.
Colvin, 780 F.3d 632 (4th Cir. 2015); (2) failing to
properly consider her upper extremity limitations, which she
contends involved both hands; (3) failing to consider her
impairments in combination; (4) failing to properly consider
Dr. Qureshi's opinion that Sisco required further
treatment and that she might have the potential for a
sedentary type of job in the future; and (4) finding that her
activities of daily living were inconsistent with a finding
of disability. (ECF No. 38)
Difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or
determining Sisco's RFC, the ALJ found that Sisco had
moderate difficulties in concentration, persistence, and
pace, as well as moderate difficulties in understanding,
remembering or applying information. (ECF No. 21-2 at 40-41).
The ALJ determined that Sisco had the RFC
to understand, remember, and perform detailed instructions
and tasks; can concentrate and persist for at least two hours
at a time on these tasks but not on higher level tasks; can
acceptably relate to co-workers and supervisors on a frequent
basis, and with the ...