Cowan v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration
ORDER RULING ON 10 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION The Court adopts the R & R of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 10) as the order of this Court and affirms the decision of the Commissioner. Signed by Honorable Richard M Gergel on 02/06/2017. (egra, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Margie Deshon Cowan,
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting,
Commissioner of Social Security,
Civil Action No.2: 15-4181-RMG
Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain relief from the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying her disability
insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. In accord with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local
Civil Rule 73.02 DSC, this matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge for pretrial
handling. The Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation ("R & R") January 17,
2017, recommending that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed. (Dkt. No.1 0). Plaintiff
filed objections to the Magistrate's Judge's R & R, essentially rearguing issues already presented
to the Magistrate Judge relating to the weight given to the opinions of Plaintiffs treating
orthopaedic physician, Dr. Dwight Jacobus, D.O., and the Administrative Law Judge's
evaluation of Plaintiffs credibility. (Dkt. No. 12).
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The recommendation
has no presumptive weight, and the responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261 (1976). The Court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the R & R to which specific objection has been made, and may
accept, reject, or modifY, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(l).
The role of the federal jUdiciary in the administrative scheme of the Social Security Act is
a limited one. Section 405(g) of the Act provides that "[t]he findings of the Commissioner of
Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive." 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). "Substantial evidence has been defined innumerable times as more than a
scintilla, but less than preponderance." Thomas v. Celebrezze, 331 F.2d 541,543 (4th Cir. 1964).
This standard precludes de novo review of factual circumstances that substitutes the Court's
findings for those of the Commissioner. Vitek v. Finch, 438 F.2d 1157 (4th Cir. 1971).
Although the federal court's review role is limited, "it does not follow, however, that the
findings of the administrative agency are mechanically accepted. The statutorily granted right of
review contemplates more than an uncritical rubber stamping ofthe administrative action."
Flack v. Cohen, 413 F.2d 278, 279 (4th Cir. 1969). "[T]he courts must not abdicate their
responsibility to give careful scrutiny to the whole record to assure that there is a sound
foundation for the [Commissioner's] findings." Vitek, 438 F.2d at 1157-58.
The Court has reviewed the R & R, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, the
administrative record, and the applicable case law. The Court is satisfied that the Magistrate
Judge ably and thoroughly analyzed the factual and legal issues in this matter and appropriately
recommended that the decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed. Therefore, the Court
ADOPTS the R & R of the Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 10) as the order of this Court and
AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
Charleston, South Carolina
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