Tucker v. Astrue
ORDER denying 34 Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and granting 36 Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Signed by US District Judge James C. Dever III on 8/8/2011. (Sawyer, D.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE,
Commissioner of the Social Security
On June 28, 2011, Magistrate Judge Gates issued a Memorandum and Recommendation
("M&R") [D.E. 39]. In that M&R, Judge Gates recommended that the court deny plaintiff s motion
for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 34], grant defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings
[D.E. 36], and affirm the final decision ofdefendant. On July 12,2011, plaintiff filed objections to
the M&R [D.E. 40]. On July 26, 2011, defendant responded [D.E. 41] to plaintiffs objections.
"The Federal Magistrates Act requires a district court to make a de novo determination of
those portions ofthe [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 in original) (emphasis removed) (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 itself that 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 ofthe 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 ofthe M&R to which plaintiff objected. The
scope ofjudicial 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,~, Walls v. Barnhart, 296 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2002); Hays v. Sul1iv~ 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence is "evidence which a reasoning mind would accept as
sufficient to support a particular conclusion. It consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence
but may be somewhat less than a preponderance." Laws v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640,642 (4th Cir.
This court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner. See,~, Hays, 907 F.2d at 1456. Rather, in determining whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's decision, the court's review is limited to whether the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALr') analyzed the relevant evidence and sufficiently explained his
findings and rationale concerning the evidence. See,~, Sterling Smokeless Coal Co. v. Akers,
131 F.3d 438, 439-40 (4th Cir. 1997).
Judge Gates properly found that the AU's decision is supported by substantial evidence and
properly concluded that the AU applied the correct legal standard. Although plaintiff has restated
her arguments on these points (and again emphasized issues associated with obesity), the arguments
fare no better here. See PI. 's Obj. 1-4. Plaintiff's objections lack merit and are overruled.
In sum, the court agrees with Judge Gates's analysis in the M&R. Accordingly, the court
adopts the M&R [D.E. 39]. Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 34] is DENIED,
defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 36] is GRANTED, and defendant's fInal
decision is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED. This
--.a day of August 2011.
United States District Judge
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