PHELPS v. COLVIN
ORDER ADOPTING 16 Report and Recommendations. The decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. Ordered by U.S. District Judge MARC THOMAS TREADWELL on 9/15/2015. (tlh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 5:13-cv-206 (MTT)
Before the Court is the Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle
(Doc. 16). The Magistrate Judge recommends affirming the Commissioner of Social
Security’s decision to deny Plaintiff Gregory Phelps’s application for benefits because
the ALJ’s failure to obtain prior claim files was not prejudicial error, and substantial
evidence supported the opinions of the consultative examiner. The Plaintiff has
objected to the Recommendation (Doc. 17), and the Commissioner has responded.
(Doc. 18). The Court has reviewed the Recommendation and has made a de novo
determination of the portions to which the Plaintiff objects. The Plaintiff’s objection
largely reiterates the arguments made in the initial brief (Doc. 12): the ALJ committed
reversible error (1) by failing to obtain Plaintiff’s prior claim file and (2) by improperly
relying upon the report of consultative psychological examiner, Dr. Robbins-Brinson.
The Plaintiff argues the ALJ’s failure to obtain these files resulted in a violation of
the HALLEX procedure and prejudiced the Plaintiff because the files indicated the
Plaintiff had received benefits in the past due to intellectual limitations before his
incarceration. Further, this failure violated the ALJ’s obligation to develop the record
fully and fairly. However, as correctly noted in the Recommendation, the ALJ did not
violate the HALLEX procedure because the prior claim files did not include a valid IQ
score under the regulation. Thus, the Plaintiff was not prejudiced, and reversal is not
warranted on this ground.
The Plaintiff further argues that the ALJ erred in relying on Dr. Robbins-Brinson’s
conclusions because her opinion had insufficient support to provide substantial
evidence for the ALJ’s decision. However, as noted in the Recommendation, the record
as a whole supports Dr. Robbins-Brinson’s report regarding Plaintiff’s intellectual
functioning and provides substantial evidence to support the ALJ’s decision. Thus, the
Court agrees that the ALJ properly relied upon the consultative examiner’s opinion.
Therefore, the Court accepts and adopts the findings, conclusions, and
recommendations of the Magistrate Judge. The Recommendation is ADOPTED and
made the Order of this Court. Accordingly, the Commissioner’s decision is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED, this 15th day of September, 2014.
S/ Marc T. Treadwell
MARC T. TREADWELL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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