Saunders v. Colvin

Filing 32

ORDER granting Defendant's 24 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and denying 22 Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Signed by Chief Judge James C. Dever III on 3/17/2014. (Sawyer, D.)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA WESTERN DIVISION No. 5:12-CV-775-D JEFF E. SAUNDERS, Plaintiff, v. ) ) ) ) ) ORDER ) CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ) Acting Commissioner of Social Security, ) ) Defendant. ) On February 14, 2014, Magistrate Judge Jones issued a Memorandum and Recommendation ("M&R") [D.E. 29]. In that M&R, Judge Jones recommended that the court deny plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 22], grant defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 24], and affirm defendant's final decision. On February 28,2014, plaintiff filed objections to the M&R [D.E. 30]. On March 14,2014, defendant responded [D.E. 31]. "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 fmdings or recommendations towhichobjectionismade." Diamond v. ColonialLife&Accidentlns. Co., 416 F.3d310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005) (alteration in original) (emphasis 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 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 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 determining 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. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence is evidence which a reasonable mind "might accept as sufficient 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 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 Commissioner analyzed the relevant evidence and sufficiently explained her fmdings 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 Jones. See [D.E. 23] 7-9. Essentially, plaintiff again attacks the ALJ's analysis of the formal functional capacity evaluation and the RFC, the ALJ' s analysis of plaintiff's abilities, and the ALJ' s analysis at step three and step five. However, both Judge Jones and the ALJ applied the proper legal standard. Moreover, substantial evidence supports the ALJ's analysis. See [D.E. 29]. Accordingly, the court adopts the M&R and overrules the objections. In sum, plaintiff's objections to the M&R [D.E. 30] are OVERRULED, plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 22] is DENIED, defendant's motion for judgment on the 2 pleadings [D.E. 24] is GRANTED, defendant's fmal decision is AFFIRMED, and this action is DISMISSED. The clerk shall close the case. SO ORDERED. This l t day of March 2014. tii; J c. • b ..Q..VAA SC.DEVERill Chief United States District Judge 3

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