United States District Court, D. South Carolina
Richard Mark Gergel Judge.
brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
obtain relief from the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration denying his application
for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") and
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). In accord
with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02 DSC,
this matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge
for pretrial handling. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report
and Recommendation ("R & R") on June 11, 2019,
recommending that the Commissioner's decision be
affirmed. (Dkt. No. 17). Plaintiff filed objections to the R
& R, and the Commissioner filed a reply (Dkt. Nos. 19,
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The
Court is charged with making a de novo determination
of those portions of the R & R to which specific
objection has been made, and may accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate
Judge. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
role of the federal judiciary in the administrative scheme of
the Social Security Act is a limited one. Section 405(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). "Substantial evidence has been defined
innumerable times as more than a scintilla, but less than
preponderance." Thomas v. Celebrezze, 331 F.2d
541, 543 (4th Cir. 1964). This standard precludes de
novo review of factual circumstances that substitutes
the Court's findings for those of the Commissioner.
Vitekv. Finch, 438 F.2d 1157 (4th Cir. 1971).
the federal court's review role is limited, "it does
not follow, however, that the findings of the administrative
agency are mechanically accepted. The statutorily granted
right of review contemplates more than an uncritical rubber
stamping of the administrative action." Flack v.
Cohen, 413 F.2d 278, 279 (4th Cir. 1969). "[T]he
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."
Vitek, 438 F.2d at 1157-58.
Magistrate Judge, in a comprehensive and well-reasoned R
& R, addressed each of the issues now the subject of
Plaintiff s objections and concluded that the
Commissioner's final decision complied with controlling
legal standards and was supported by substantial evidence.
The record contains conflicting evidence regarding the degree
to which Plaintiffs well-documented mental and physical
impairments prevent him from sustaining work in the
competitive workplace. The Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") thoughtfully weighed these conflicting
opinions and evidence and concluded that Plaintiff, despite
his recognized severe impairments, retains the residual
functional capacity for sedentary work. (Tr. 667-74). This
finding recognizes significant work-related impairments,
including the incapacity to stand and walk for more than two
hours in an eight hour day and only occasionally lifting more
than ten pounds. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a). Plaintiff
accurately notes in his objections record evidence of a
significant history of back surgeries and other physical and
mental disorders. These include the opinions of Plaintiff s
treating physician, Dr. Stone, that identify profound
limitations in functioning that the ALJ reasonably found
inconsistent with some of Plaintiff s regular conducted
activities of daily living and use of a motorcycle. (Tr.
671-72). Further, Plaintiffs history of non-compliance with
his diabetic regime, well documented by Dr. Stone, raises
reasonable questions about Dr. Stone's statement that
Plaintiff was doing all he could do. (Tr. 672). Multiple
examinations conducted by physicians at the request of the
Social Security Administration all recognize significant
impairments, but differed on the degree of impact on
Plaintiffs capacity to perform certain essential functions.
(Tr. 436-39, 998-1001, 1084-86). In the final analysis, it is
the responsibility of the ALJ to weigh this conflicting
evidence and reach a conclusion regarding the degree to which
Plaintiff retains the residual functional capacity to work.
The question before the Court is not whether this Court,
handling the matter de novo, would reach this
conclusion, but whether there is substantial evidence in the
record to support the conclusion of the ALJ that Plaintiff
retains the residual functional capacity for sedentary
Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge that there is
substantial evidence in the record to support the conclusion
of the ALJ in this matter and the decision complies with the
standards and requirements of the applicable Social Security
statutes, rules and regulations. Consequently, the Court
ADOPTS the R & R of the Magistrate Judge
(Dkt. No. 17) as the order of this Court and
AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner.
IS SO ORDERED.
 Plaintiffs date of birth was May 1,
1969, making him now 50 years of age. Assuming Plaintiff
still can not perform his past relevant work, has no
transferable skills, and is limited to performing sedentary
work, he is deemed disabled as a "person approaching
advanced age" on or after his 50th birthday
under controlling Social Security ...