Pair v. Colvin

Filing 25

ORDER denying 17 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; granting 19 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; adopting 22 Memorandum and Recommendations. Signed by Chief Judge James C. Dever III on 7/6/2017. (Briggeman, N.)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA EASTERN DMSION No. 4:16-CV-206-D :rvtiCHAEL WAYNE PAIR, Plaintiff, v. ) ) ) ) ) . ORDER ) NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ) Acting Commissioner of Social Security, ) ) Defendant. ) On May 30, 2017, Magistrate Judge Swank issued a Memorandum and Recommendation ( ("M&R") [D.E. 22]. In that M&R, Judge Swank recommended that this court deny plaintiffs motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 17], grant defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 19], and affirm defendant's final decision. On June 13, 2017, plaintiff filed objections to the M&R [D.E. 23]. On June 14, 2017, defendant responded [D.E. 24]. "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) (emphasis, alteration, and quotation omitted); see 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). 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 315 (quotation omitted). The court has reviewed the M&R, the record, and plaintiff's objections. As for those portions of the M&R to which plaintiff made no objection, the court is satisfied that there is no clear 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 of judicial review of a final decision regarding disability benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), is limited to detennining whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's factual findings and whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards. See, e.g., Walls v. Barnhart, 296 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2002); Hays v. Sullivm1, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence is evidence which a "reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quotation omitted). It "consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be less than a preponderance." Smith v. Chater, 99 F.3d 635, 638 (4th Cir. 1996). This court may not re-weigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. See, ~' Hays, 907 F .2d at 1456. Rather, in detennining whether substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's decision, the court's review is limited to whether the Commissioner analyzed the relevant evidence and sufficiently explained her findings and rationale concerning the evidence. See, ~' Sterling Smokeless Coal Co. v. Akers, 131 F.3d 438, 439-40 (4th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff's objections restate the arguments made to Judge Swank concerning the weight the ALJ gave to the opinions of plaintiff's treating physician (Dr. Moffett) compared to the weight it gave to state consultative examiners (Dr. Albert and Dr. Burnett) and medical consultants (Dr. . Aldridge and Dr. Farrell), concerning the ALJ's failure to find that plaintiff meets the Listing 12.04 criteria, and concerning plaintiff's residual functional capacity. Compare [D .E. 18] 6-14, with [D.E. 23] 4--9. However, both Judge Swank and the ALJ applied the proper legal standards. Moreover, substantial evidence supports the ALJ' s analysis. See M&R at 4--11. Accordingly, the court adopts the M&R and overrules the objections. In sum, plaintiff's objections to the M&R [D.E. 23] are OVERRULED, plaintiff's motion 2 for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 17] is DENIED, defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 19] is GRANTED, defendant's final decision is AFFIRMED, and this action is DISMISSED. The clerk shall close the case. SO ORDERED. This _fe_ day of July 2017. 3

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