Reeves v. Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
ORDER RULING ON REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION: The court adopts the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation in full. The Commissioner's decision is hereby reversed and remanded to the Commissioner for further action as set out in this order and the Report and Recommendation. Signed by Honorable Joseph F Anderson, Jr on 2/21/2014. (prou, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Carolyn W. Colvin, Commissioner of
C/A No. 4:12-3524-JFA-TER
The plaintiff, Andy Reeves, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner)
denying his claim for disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401–433, 1381–1383c.
The Magistrate Judge assigned to this action1 has prepared a Report and
Recommendation wherein he opines that the court cannot conduct a proper review of the
Commissioner’s decision based on the record presented. The Magistrate Judge recommends
that the Commissioner’s decision should be reversed and remanded for further administrative
action. The Report sets forth in detail the relevant facts and standards of law on this matter,
and the court incorporates such without a recitation.
The parties were advised of their right to submit objections to the Report and
The Magistrate Judge’s review is made in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Civil Rule 73.02. 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 Report to which specific objection is made and
the court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, or recommit
the matter to the Magistrate Judge with instructions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
Recommendation which was filed on January 27, 2014. The Commissioner has filed timely
objections to the Report which the court will address herein. It thus appears this matter is
ripe for review.
The plaintiff applied for DIB on August 5, 2009 alleging disability as of July 1, 2008
due to degenerative disc disease, and affective, anxiety, and somatiform disorders. The
plaintiff was 44 years old at the time of his alleged disability. He has a ninth grade education
and past work experience as a dye machine operator and a warehouse worker.
The plaintiff’s applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. The
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing and issued an unfavorable decision on
October 18, 2011. The Appeals Council denied a request for review, thereby making the
ALJ’s decision final for purposes of judicial review. Plaintiff thereafter filed this action on
December 14, 2012 seeking judicial review of the Commissioner’s final decision.
The Report and Recommendation sets forth the proper standard of review by this
court which is limited to determining whether the decision of the Commissioner is supported
by substantial evidence and whether the legal conclusions of the Commissioner are correct
under controlling law.
The issue before the court at this point is whether the ALJ conducted a proper analysis
of the treating and consulting physicians’ opinions. The Magistrate Judge notes that the ALJ
gave the greatest weight to the opinion of the non-treating, non-evaluating state agency
psychologist, while discounting the opinions of the plaintiff’s treating physician and the
consulting psychologist. The Magistrate Judge suggests that the ALJ does not clearly
identify the other evidence with which the treating physician’s opinion is inconsistent. Thus,
the Magistrate Judge suggests that a remand is necessary so that the ALJ can properly
evaluate the opinions of the physicians under the regulatory standards set forth in
§ 404.1527(c). Specifically, that the ALJ must evaluate the opinions under § 1527(c) and
articulate good reasons for rejecting the treating and consulting physicians’ opinions. The
Magistrate Judge did not address the remaining issues raised by the plaintiff pending a
further evaluation by the ALJ.
The Commissioner objects to the Magistrate Judge’s findings, suggesting that the
court should address the evidence on which the ALJ actually based his evaluation of the
opinion evidence before determining that substantial evidence does not support it. On the
contrary, the Magistrate Judge does not attempt to reweigh the evidence; he merely seeks to
clarify what specific reasons the ALJ had for making his finding as the ALJ failed to properly
articulate such reasons as is required under the § 1527(c) standards. Once this issue is
clarified on remand, the court will be in a position to conduct a proper review of the
Commissioner’s decision and determine if substantial evidence supports that decision.
After a careful review of the record, including the findings of the ALJ, the briefs from
the plaintiff and the Commissioner, the Magistrate Judge’s Report, and the Commissioner’s
objections thereto, this court finds that further administrative action is warranted before this
court can determine in the ALJ’s decision was supported by substantial evidence and that the
ALJ did not incorrectly apply the law in his decision. The court adopts the Magistrate
Judge’s Report and Recommendation in full.
Accordingly, the Commissioner’s decision is hereby reversed and remanded to the
Commissioner for further action as set out in this order and the Report and Recommendation.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
February 21, 2014
Columbia, South Carolina
Joseph F. Anderson, Jr.
United States District Judge
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