Evans v. Colvin
ORDER denying 16 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; granting 18 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; adopting 23 Memorandum and Recommendations. Signed by Chief Judge James C. Dever III on 1/19/2017. (Briggeman, N.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
TIMOTHY LEE EVANS, SR.,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security, )
On December 21, 2016, Magistrate Judge Gates issued a Memorandum and Recommendation
("M&R") [D.E. 23]. In that M&R, Judge Gates recommended that this court deny plaintiffs motion
for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 16], grant defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings
[D.E. 18], and affirm defendant's final decision. On December 30,2016, plaintiff filed objections
to the M&R [D.E. 24]. On January 10, 2017, defendant responded [D.E. 25].
"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
towhichobjectionismade." Diamond v. ColonialLife&Accidentlns. Co., 416F.3d310, 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 plaintiffs 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 fmdings and whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards.
Walls v. Barnhart, 296 F.3d 287, 290 (4th Cir. 2002); Hays v.
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
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, e.g., 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,
Smokeless Coal Co. v. Akers, 131 F.3d 438, 43~0 (4th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff objects that Judge Gates erred in failing to find that the April29, 2015, submission
from plaintiffs' treating physician was new and material evidence. Compare [D.E. 24] 3-4, with
M&R [D.E. 23] 18-19. Plaintiff's objections also restate the arguments made to Judge Gates
concerning plaintiff's RFC. Compare [D.E. 17] 5-10, with [D.E. 24] 1-9. However, both Judge
Gates and the ALJ applied the proper legal standards. Finally, plaintiff objects that the ALJ erred
in analyzing SSR 96-8p. See [D.E. 24] 6-7. Judge Gates properly rejected this argument. See
M&R at 19-24. Moreover, substantial evidence supports the ALJ's analysis. See M&R at 2-25.
Accordingly, the court adopts the M&R and overrules the objections.
In sum, plaintiffs objections to the M&R [D.E. 24] are OVERRULED, plaintiffs motion
for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 16] is DENIED, defendant's motion for judgment on the
pleadings [D.E. 18] is GRANTED, defendant's final decision is AFFIRMED, and this action is
DISMISSED. The clerk shall close the case.
SO ORDERED. This Jj_ day of January 2017.
Chief United States District Judge
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