United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
matter is before the court upon review of the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”)
(ECF No. 18), filed on June 26, 2019, recommending that
Commissioner Andrew M. Saul's (“the
Commissioner”) decision denying Cynthia Johnson's
(“Plaintiff”) claim for Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act (“the Act”) be reversed and remanded
under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further
analysis and consideration by the Commissioner. (Id.
at 1.) For the reasons stated herein, the court
ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report
(ECF. No. 18), incorporating it herein,
REVERSES the decision of the Commissioner,
and REMANDS the action for additional
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Report sets forth the relevant facts and legal standards,
which this court incorporates herein without a full
recitation. (ECF No. 18.) As a brief background, Plaintiff
filed an application for SSI on July 14, 2014. (Id.
at 1.) Her application was denied initially on September 25,
2014, and again upon reconsideration on December 4, 2014.
(Id. at 2.) Following a hearing on October 3, 2016,
the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) determined
that Plaintiff was not disabled for purposes of the Act and
denied Plaintiff's claim for SSI on January 11, 2017.
(Id. at 2.) The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision.
(Id.) Thus, the ALJ's decision then became the
final decision of the Commissioner (Id.) See
also Meyer v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 700, 704 (4th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff then filed the instant action in the United States
District Court for the District of South Carolina on January
12, 2018. (ECF No. 1.)
concluded that although Plaintiff suffered from severe
impairments, including coronary artery disease
(“CAD”), constructive obstructive pulmonary
disease (“COPD”), lumbar degenerative disc
disease, arthritis of the lower extremities, affective
disorder, and anxiety, Plaintiff “does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 . . .
.” (ECF No. 18 at 2.) In addition, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work, as defined in 20
C.F.R. § 416.967(b), except Plaintiff may sit, stand or
walk for six hours of an eight-hour day and may change
positions once an hour at her workstation. (Id.) The
ALJ noted that Plaintiff could not climb ladders, ropes, and
scaffolds, but may occasionally perform all other postural
activities. (Id.) Furthermore, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff was able to frequently perform fine
manipulations and simple, routine, and repetitive tasks.
(Id. at 2-3.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff has no
past relevant work, but has a high school education and can
communicate in English. (Id. at 3.)
Report, the Magistrate Judge determined that the ALJ
“failed to identify and obtain a reasonable explanation
for the apparent conflict between the jobs identified by the
vocational expert, Dr. Vincent Hecker (“VE” or
“Hecker”), and the requirements for those jobs in
the DOT.” (Id. at 6.) The Magistrate Judge
applied a five-step process under the Act by which the
existence of a disability claim can be determined.
(Id. at 4.) Specifically, the Magistrate Judge found
that the “ALJ's determination at Step Five that
Plaintiff was capable of working as an assembler,
maker/pricer, or trimmer was not supported by substantial
evidence.” (Id.) See also 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920; Hall v. Harris, 658 F.2d 260 (4th
Cir. 1981). According to the Magistrate Judge, the ALJ has
not fulfilled his affirmative duty to resolve an apparent
conflict between Plaintiff's RFC assessment and the DOT
requirements for the jobs recommended by the ALJ. (ECF No. 18
at 8.) This duty is not fulfilled “merely because the
vocational expert responds ‘yes' when asked if
[his] testimony is consistent with the [DOT].”
(Id.) See also Pearson v. Colvin, 810 F.3d
204, 208 (4th Cir. 2015). The Magistrate Judge cited the
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit's
decision in Henderson v. Colvin, 643 Fed.Appx. 273
(4th Cir. 2015), and applied the court's reasoning that
there is an apparent conflict between an RFC that limits a
claimant to one-to-two step instructions and a GED reasoning
Code 2, which specifies detailed instructions. (ECF No. 18 at
9.) This is a similar designation as given to Plaintiff in
the present case. The Magistrate Judge noted that “it
has been the practice in this [d]istrict since
Henderson to remand based on an apparent
conflict” and there is no reason to deviate from this
well-established precedent. (Id. at 10.) See
also Taylor v. Berryhill, No. 0:17-CV-3419-CMC, 2019 WL
1397187, at *3 (D.S.C. Mar. 28, 2019). The ALJ's
determination at Step Five of his analysis is not supported
by substantial evidence, and remand is required to address
the apparent conflict. (ECF No. 18 at 11.) See also
Taylor, 2019 WL 1397187, at *4. The Magistrate Judge
found that the ALJ's failure to resolve the
aforementioned conflict to be a sufficient basis on which to
remand the case and declined to specifically address
Plaintiff's additional allegations of error. (ECF No. 18
parties were apprised of their opportunity to file specific
objections to the Report on June 17, 2019. (ECF No. 18.)
Objections to the Report were due by July 10, 2019.
(Id.) On July 2, 2019, the Commissioner notified the
court that he would not object to the Magistrate Judge's
Report. (ECF No. 19 at 1.) Plaintiff has not filed any
objection to the Report.
Magistrate Judge's Report is made in accordance to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule
73.02(B)(2)(a) for the District of South Carolina. The
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court,
which has no presumptive weight. See Mathews v.
Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71 (1976). The responsibility
to make a final determination remains with this court.
Id. at 271. As such, the court is charged with
making a de novo determination of those portions of
the Report to which specific objections are made.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). See also
Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). In the absence of specific
objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report, the court is
not required to give any explanation for adopting the Report.
See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir.
1983). Rather, “in the absence of a timely filed
objection, a district court need not conduct a de novo
review, but instead must only satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation.” Diamond v. Colonial Life and Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (quoting
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee's note). Thus, the
court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the
Magistrate Judge's recommendation or recommit the matter
with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
absence of objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report,
this court is not required to provide an explanation for
adopting the recommendation. See Camby, 718 F.2d at
199. Furthermore, failure to file specific written objections
to the Report results in a party's waiver of the right to
appeal from the judgment of the district court based upon
such recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Thomas
v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140 (1985). The court concludes that
the Magistrate Judge's Report accurately summarizes the
law and correctly applies it to the instant case. (ECF No.
18.) Because no specific objections were filed by either
party and the court discerns no clear error within the
Report, the court adopts the Report herein. Diamond,
416 F.3d at 315; Camby, 718 F.2d at 199.
thorough review of the Report and the record in this case,
the court ACCEPTS the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 18) and incorporates it
herein. Therefore, the decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security Administration is REVERSED, and
this case is REMANDED for further
administrative action in accordance with 42 U.S.C. §