United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
ORDER ADOPTING THE REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION,
REVERSING THE DECISION OF DEFENDANT, AND REMANDING FOR
FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
a Social Security appeal in which Plaintiff Natonya Marvette
Glenn (Glenn) seeks judicial review of the final decision of
Defendant Andrew Saul (Saul) denying her claim for Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI). The matter is before the Court for review of the
Report and Recommendation (Report) of the United States
Magistrate Judge suggesting the Court reverse the Saul's
decision and remand the case to Saul for further
administrative proceedings. The Report was made in accordance
with 28 U.S.C. § 636 and Local Civil Rule 73.02 for the
District of South Carolina.
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to the Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight. The
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270 (1976).
The Court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the Report to which a
specific objection is made, and the Court may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the
Magistrate Judge or recommit the matter with instructions. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The Court need not conduct a de novo
review, however, “when a party makes general and
conclusory objections that do not direct the court to a
specific error in the [Magistrate Judge's] proposed
findings and recommendations.” Orpiano v.
Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); see
Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).
Magistrate Judge filed the Report on July 31, 2019. Saul
filed his Objection to the Report (Saul's Objection) on
August 13, 2019. Glenn filed her Reply to Saul's
Objection and her own Objection to the Report (Glenn's
Objection) on August 14, 2019. The Court has reviewed both
objections and each has merit. Nevertheless, the ultimate
disposition of the case remains the same. The Court will
therefore enter judgment accordingly.
February 12, 2015, Glenn filed her applications for DIB and
SSI. She contends her disability commenced on August 6, 2012.
Saul denied Glenn's applications initially and upon
reconsideration. Glenn then requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which the ALJ conducted on
June 30, 2017.
September 28, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision holding Glenn
was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied Glenn's
request for review of the ALJ's decision. Glenn then
filed this action for judicial review with the Court on
October 1, 2018.
Agency has established a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining if a person is disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a). The five steps are: (1)
whether the claimant is currently engaging in substantial
gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a medically
determinable severe impairment(s); (3) whether such
impairment(s) meets or equals an impairment set forth in the
Listings; (4) whether the impairment(s) prevents the claimant
from returning to his past relevant work; and, if so, (5)
whether the claimant is able to perform other work as it
exists in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), a district court is required to
conduct a de novo review of those portions of the Magistrate
Judge's Report to which a specific objection has been
made. The Court need not conduct a de novo review, however,
“when a party makes general and conclusory objections
that do not direct the court to a specific error in the
[Magistrate Judge's] proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).
the plaintiff's duty both to produce evidence and prove
he is disabled under the Act. See Pass v. Chater, 65
F.3d 1200, 1203 (4th Cir. 1995). Nevertheless, the ALJ is to
develop the record and when he “fails in his duty to
fully inquire into the issues necessary for adequate
development of the record, and such failure is prejudicial to
the claimant, the case should be remanded.” Marsh
v. Harris, 632 F.2d 296, 300 (4th Cir. 1980).
also the task of the ALJ, not this Court, to make findings of
fact and resolve conflicts in the evidence. Hays v.
Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). “It
is not within the province of this [C]ourt to determine the
weight of the evidence; nor is it [the Court's] function
to substitute [its] judgment for that of [the defendant] if
[the] decision is supported by substantial evidence.”
Laws v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir.
1966). In other words, the Court “must sustain the
ALJ's decision, even if [it] disagree[s] with it,
provided the determination is supported by substantial
evidence.” Smith v. Chater, 99 F.3d 635, 638
(4th Cir. 1996). Under the substantial evidence standard, the
Court must view the entire record as a whole. See Steurer
v. Bowen, 815 F.2d, 1249, 1250 (8th Cir. 1987).
substantial evidence standard presupposes a zone of choice
within which the decisionmakers can go either way, without
interference by the courts. An administrative decision is not
subject to reversal merely because substantial evidence would
have supported an opposite decision.” Clarke v.
Bowen, 843 F.2d 271, 272-73 (8th Cir. 1988) (citations
omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted) (alteration
omitted). Put differently, if the ALJ's
“dispositive factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence, they must be affirmed, even in cases
where contrary findings of an ALJ might also be so
supported.” Kellough v. Heckler, 785 F.2d
1147, 1149 (4th Cir. 1986).
objects to the Report on the ground he thinks the ALJ
sufficiently explained how Glenn's moderate limitations
in concentration, persistence, or pace translated into the
residual functional capacity (RFC) finding, is supported by
record for review “should include a discussion of which
evidence the ALJ found credible and why, and the specific
application of the pertinent legal requirements to the
record.” Radford v. Colvin, 734 F.3d 288, 295
(4th Cir. 2013). Remand is appropriate where “the