Holley v. Saul

Filing 33

ORDER granting 27 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; adopting 31 Memorandum and Recommendations; denying 20 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Signed by District Judge James C. Dever III on 2/16/2021. (Sellers, N.)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTII CAROLINA NORTHERN DMSION No. 2:19-CV-32-D BENNIE HOLLEY, Plaintiff, v. ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ORDER On January 13, 2021, Magistrate Judge Numbers issued a Memorandum and Recommendations ("M&R") and recommended that this court deny plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 20], grant defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 27], and affirm defendant's final decision. See [D.E. 31]. On January 27, 2021, plaintiff objected to the M&R [D.E. 32]. ''The Federal Magistrates Act requires a district court to make a de novo determination of those portions of the magistrate judge's report or specified proposed :findings or recommendations to which objection is made." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (alteration, emphasis, and quotation omitted); see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1 ). Absent a timely objection, "a district court need not conduct a de novo review, but instead must only satisfy itselfthat there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation." Diamond, 416 F.3d at 31'5 (quotation omitted). The court has reviewed the M&R, the record, and plaintiff's objections. As for those portions ofthe M&R to which plaintiffmade no objection, the court is satisfied that there is no clear Case 2:19-cv-00032-D Document 33 Filed 02/16/21 Page 1 of 3 error on the face of the record. The court has reviewed de novo the portions of the M&R to which plaintiff objected. The scope ofjudicial review of a final decision concerning disability benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 301 et~ is limited to determining whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's factual findings and whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. See, ~ 42 U.S.C. § 40S(g); Shinabeny v. Saul, 952 F.3d 113, 120 (4th Cir. 2020); Woods v. Benyhill, 888 F.3d 686, 692-93 (4th Cir. 2018); Walls v. Barnhart, 296 F.3d 287,290 (4th Cir. 2002); Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence is evidence a ''reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quotation omitted); see Biestek v. Benyhill, 139 S. Ct. 1148, 11S4 (2019). It "consists of more than a mer~ scintilla of evidence but may be less than a preponderance." Smith v. Chater, 99 F.3d 63S, 638 (4th Cir. 1996); see Biestek, 139 S. Ct. at 1154; Shinabeny, 952 F.3d at 120. This court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. See, ~ Shinabeny. 952 F.3d at 120; Hays, 907 F.2d at 1456. Rather, in determining whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's decision, the court examines whether the Commissioner analyzed the relevant evidence and sufficiently explained his findings and rationale concerning the evidence. See. e.g., Shinabeny. 952 F.3d at 120; Sterling Smokeless Coal Co. v. Akers, 131 F.3d 438, 439-40 (4th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff's objections restate the arguments made to Judge Numbers concerning whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ'') properly explained the weight given to the NCDHHS Medicaid decision, properly evaluated the evidence at step 5, properly considered the opinions ofDrs. Chandi . and Singh, properly determined plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity (''RFC"), and properly posed a hypothetical question to the Vocational Expert (''VE"). Compare [D.E. 21] 13-41, with 2 Case 2:19-cv-00032-D Document 33 Filed 02/16/21 Page 2 of 3 [D.E. 32] 1-4. Judge Numbers and the AU applied the proper legal standards. See M&R [D.E. 31] 3-25. Moreover, substantial evidence supports the ALJ's analysis. See id. Thus, the court overrules the objections. In~ the court OVERRULES plaintiff's objections to the M&R [D.E. 32], ADOPTS the conclusions in the M&R [D.E. 31 ], DENIES plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 20], GRANTS defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 27], AFFIRMS defendant's final decision, and DISMISSES this action. The clerk shall close the case. SO ORDERED. This~ day of February 2021 United States District Judge 3 Case 2:19-cv-00032-D Document 33 Filed 02/16/21 Page 3 of 3

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