Ferguson v. Colvin
ORDER dismissing as moot 35 Motion for Leave to File Sur-Reply, adopting 37 Memorandum and Recommendations, denying 29 Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, and granting 31 Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Defendant's final decision is AFFIRMED, and this action is DISMISSED. Signed by Chief Judge James C. Dever III on 8/5/2014. (Tripp, S.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
SUE ELLA FERGUSON,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security, )
On June 23,2014, Magistrate Judge Swank issued a Memorandum and Recommendation
("M&R") [D .E. 37]. In that M&R, Judge Swank recommended that the court deny plaintiff's motion
for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 29], grant defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings
[D.E. 31], and affirm defendant's fmal decision. On July 7, 2014, plaintiff filed objections to the
M&R [D.E. 38]. Defendant did not respond.
"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
to which objection is made." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F .3d 310, 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 fmdings 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 that a reasonable mind "might accept as
sufficient 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, ~. 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,
Smokeless Coal Co. v. Akers, 131 F.3d 438, 439-40 (4th Cir. 1997).
Plaintiff objects that the ALJ did not give the opinions of plaintiff's treating psychiatrist and
consultants enough weight. See [D.E. 38] 1-4. However, both Judge Swank and the ALJ applied
the proper legal standard. Moreover, substantial evidence supports the ALJ's analysis. See [D.E.
37] 4-8. Accordingly, the court adopts the M&R and overrules the objections.
In sum, plaintiff's objections to the M&R [D.E. 38] are OVERRULED, plaintiff's motion
for judgment on the pleadings [D.E. 29] is DENIED, defendant's motion for judgment on the
pleadings [D.E. 31] is GRANTED, defendant's motion to file a sur-reply [D.E. 35] is DISMISSED
as moot, defendant's final decision is AFFIRMED, and this action is DISMISSED. The clerk shall
close the case.
SO ORDERED. This ..s_ day of August 2014.
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