United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Shannon T. Edwards, Plaintiff,
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
Honorable Bruce H. Hendricks United States District Judge.
an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
seeking judicial review of the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security's (“Commissioner”) final decision,
which denied Plaintiff Shannon T. Edwards'
(“Plaintiff”) claim for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). The record includes the report and
recommendation (“Report”) of United States
Magistrate Judge Jacquelyn D. Austin, which was made in
accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636 (b)(1)(B) and Local
Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(a) (D.S.C.).
Report, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court affirm
the Commissioner's final decision denying benefits.
Plaintiff filed objections to the Report, and the
Commissioner filed a reply to those objections. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) (providing that a party may
object, in writing, to a Magistrate Judge's Report within
14 days after being served a copy). For the reasons stated
below, the Court adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and
affirms the Commissioner's final decision denying
protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI on September
19, 2013, and alleging a disability onset date of January 1,
2013. His claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), and a hearing
was held on June 17, 2016. The ALJ issued a decision on
November 9, 2016, finding Plaintiff not disabled. Plaintiff
requested review, but on October 16, 2017, the Appeals
Council issued a notice denying Plaintiff's request for
review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's
final decision for purposes of judicial review. Plaintiff
filed this action seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision on December 9, 2017.
The Magistrate Judge's Report
Court conducts a de novo review to those portions of the
Report to which a specific objection is made, and this Court
may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
recommendations contained in the Report. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). Any written objection must specifically identify
the portion of the Report to which the objection is made and
the basis for the objection. Id.
Judicial Review of a Final Decision
federal judiciary plays a limited role in the administrative
scheme as established by the Social Security Act. Section
205(g) of the Act provides that “[t]he 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). “Consequently, judicial review
. . . of a final decision regarding disability benefits is
limited to determining whether the findings are supported by
substantial evidence and whether the correct law was
applied.” Walls v. Barnhart, 296 F.3d 287, 290
(4th Cir. 2002). “Substantial evidence” is
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 a refusal to
direct a verdict were the case before a jury, then there is
Shively v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 987, 989 (4th Cir.
1984) (quoting Laws v. Celebreeze, 368 F.2d 640, 642
(4th Cir. 1966)). In assessing whether substantial evidence
exists, the reviewing court should not “undertake to
re-weigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute [its] judgment for that
of” the agency. Mastro v. Apfel, 270 F.3d 171,
176 (4th Cir. 2001) (alteration in original).