Mercer v. Colvin
ORDER denying 16 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; granting 18 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings; adopting 21 Memorandum and Recommendations. Signed by Chief Judge James C. Dever III on 8/21/2017. (Briggeman, N.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
.SHARNICE D. MERCER,
NANCY A. BERRYlllLL,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security, )
On July 11, 2017, Magistrate Judge Gates issued a Memorandum and Recommendation
("M&R") [D.E. 21]. In that M&R, Judge Gates recommended that this court deny plaintiff's 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 July 18, 2017, plaintiff objected to the M&R
[D.E. 22]. Defendant did not respond.
"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. Colonial Life &Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.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 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.
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). It
"consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be less than a preponderance." Smith
v. Chater, 99 F .3d 635, 63 8 (4th Cir. 1996). This court may not re-weigh the evidence or substitute
itsjudgmentforthatofthe Commissioner. See,~' Hays, 907 F.2dat 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 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 largely restate the arguments made to Judge Gates concerning
plaintiff's residual. Compare [D.E. 17] 3-8, with [D.E. 22] 4--6. However, both Judge Gates and
the ALJ applied the proper legal standards. Moreover, substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
analysis. See M&R at 4--12.
In sum, plaintiff's objections to the M&R [D.E. 22] are OVERRULED, plaintiff's 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 fmal decision is AFFIRMED, and this action is
DISMISSED. The clerk shall close the case.
SO ORDERED. This_!!_ day of August 2017.
Chief United States District Judge
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