Holley v. Saul
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.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTII CAROLINA
ANDREW M. SAUL,
Commissioner of Social Security,
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
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
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[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
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
Case 2:19-cv-00032-D Document 33 Filed 02/16/21 Page 3 of 3
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