United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division
Timothy M. Cain United States District Judge
Brenda Lee Ginn (“Ginn”) 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”) 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. (ECF No. 22). The Report
recommends affirming the decision of the Commissioner to deny
benefits. Id. at 18. Ginn timely filed objections to
the Report (ECF No. 27), and the Commissioner filed a reply
to those objections (ECF No. 28). The court adopts the Report
and affirms the denial of benefits.
January 30, 2013, Ginn filed an application for DIB, alleging
a disability onset date of January 1, 2013. (ECF No. 7-5 at
4). Ginn later amended the onset date to January 4, 2013.
Id. at 6. Her application was denied initially and
on reconsideration. (ECF No. 7-4 at 5, 11). On April 1, 2014,
Ginn requested a review by an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) (ECF No. 7-4 at 14), and a hearing was
held before an ALJ on June 7, 2016 (ECF No. 7-2 at 38).
16, 2016, the ALJ denied Ginn's claims, finding her not
disabled under the SSA. Id. at 21-32. The ALJ found
that Ginn suffered from the following serious impairments:
systemic lupus erythematous, arthritis, hypertension, and
diabetes mellitus. Id. at 26. However, the ALJ
concluded that the impairments did not meet or were not
medically equal to the criteria for any of the listed
impairments. Id. at 28. The ALJ then assessed
Ginn's residual functional capacity (“RFC”),
id. at 29-31, finding that Ginn could perform
“sedentary work” with certain limitations,
id. at 29. Finally, the ALJ found that Ginn was
capable of performing her past relevant work as a
receptionist/bookkeeper. Id. at 31. Accordingly, the
ALJ denied Ginn's claims. Id. at 32.
April 24, 2017, the Appeals Council declined to review the
ALJ's decision. Id. 7-2 at 2. Ginn filed this
action for judicial review on June 26, 2017. (ECF No. 1). In
the Report, the magistrate judge sets forth the relevant
facts and legal standards, which are incorporated herein by
reference. (ECF No. 22). On October 5, 2018, Ginn timely
filed objections to the Report, (ECF No. 27), and on October
18, 2018, the Commissioner filed a reply to those objections
(ECF No. 28). 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 SSA
provides that “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, Ginn simply
repeats—verbatim— the arguments she made in her
opening brief. (ECF No. 28 at 1). Moreover, as the magistrate
judge recognized, Ginn also used the entire argument from her
opening brief—verbatim—to reply to the
Commissioner's response. (ECF 22 at 11). Ginn's
objections, therefore, simply repeat verbatim for the third
time the arguments presented in her opening brief, and they
do not specifically direct the court's attention to any
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 Ginn's arguments and that the
Report contains no clear error. Accordingly, the court adopts
thorough review of the record, the court adopts the Report
(ECF No. 22) and the Commissioner's ...