Vance v. Commissioner of Social Security
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING AND ADOPTING THE 28 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE. It is ORDERED that this civil action be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE and STRICKEN from the active docket of this Court. The Clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment on this matter. Signed by Senior Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr. on 1/12/18. (lmm)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
Civil Action No. 5:16CV166
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
AFFIRMING AND ADOPTING THE REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION OF THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE
The plaintiff, by counsel, seeks judicial review of the
defendant’s decision to deny his claims for disability insurance
benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act and
supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social
The plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on June 12,
2013, alleging disability beginning April 15, 2012.
disorders, obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obstructive sleep
apnea, and restless leg syndrome.
His claim was denied initially
and again upon reconsideration. The plaintiff then filed a written
request for a hearing, and the ALJ held a hearing on February 12,
The plaintiff, represented by counsel, and an impartial
vocational expert appeared at the hearing.
The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision to the plaintiff, and the plaintiff appealed.
The Appeals Council denied the plaintiff’s request for review, and
the plaintiff timely brought his claim before this Court.
The ALJ used a five step evaluation process pursuant to 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1420 and 416.920.
Using that process, the ALJ made
the following findings: (1) the plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since April 15, 2012, his application
date; (2) the plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
anxiety and major depressive disorders; (3) none of the plaintiff’s
impairments met or medically equaled the severity of any of the
impairments listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1;
(4) the plaintiff is capable of performing his past relevant work
as a sorter and cook helper; and (5) “[c]onsidering the claimant’s
age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,
there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that the claimant can perform.”
Therefore, the ALJ found
that the plaintiff did not have a disability as defined under the
Social Security Act.
The plaintiff and the defendant both filed motions for summary
The plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment argues that
the ALJ’s decision is not supported by substantial evidence.
Specifically, the plaintiff contends that the ALJ (1) erroneously
assessed the plaintiff’s Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) and
(2) erroneously evaluated the plaintiff’s subjective complaints.
The plaintiff requests that the Court reverse the ALJ’s decision
and remand the case for further administrative proceedings.
defendant’s motion for summary judgment argues that the ALJ’s
decision is supported by substantial evidence.
defendant argues that (1) the ALJ appropriately accommodated the
plaintiff’s moderate limitations in concentration, persistence, or
pace, and (2) the ALJ’s assessment of the plaintiff’s subjective
complaints is supported by substantial evidence.
defendant requests that this Court affirm the ALJ’s decision.
United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble then entered
The magistrate judge recommends that this Court deny
the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, grant the defendant’s
motion for summary judgment, and accordingly dismiss with prejudice
this civil action. For the reasons set forth below, the report and
recommendation of the magistrate judge is affirmed and adopted.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court must conduct
recommendation to which objection is timely made.
As to those
portions of a recommendation to which no objection is made, a
magistrate judge’s findings and recommendation will be upheld
unless they are clearly erroneous.
Because neither party filed
objections, this Court will review the magistrate judge’s findings
and recommendations under the clearly erroneous standard.
As the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
has held, “Under the Social Security Act, [a reviewing court] must
uphold the factual findings of the Secretary if they are supported
by substantial evidence and were reached through application of the
correct legal standard.”
Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
credibility determinations in evaluating whether a decision is
supported by substantial evidence; ‘[w]here conflicting evidence
allows reasonable minds to differ,’ we defer to the Commissioner’s
Thompson v. Astrue, 442 F. App’x 804, 805 (4th Cir.
2011) (quoting Johnson v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650, 653 (4th Cir.
Further, as the Supreme Court of the United States stated
in United States v. United States Gypsum Co., “a finding is
‘clearly erroneous’ when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.”
333 U.S. 364, 395.
After reviewing the record before this Court, no clearly
erroneous findings exist concerning the magistrate judge’s report
In making his recommendations, the magistrate
judge first found that the ALJ did not erroneously assess the
The plaintiff argues that the assessment was
erroneous because the ALJ (1) did not conduct the requisite
function-by-function analysis and (2) did not include a limitation
concentration, persistence, or pace in the plaintiff’s RFC.
the plaintiff’s first argument, the magistrate judge found that the
ALJ’s analysis does not frustrate meaningful review because the
The magistrate judge noted that the ALJ’s thorough
plaintiff’s mental history and treatment from May 2012 to February
ECF No. 9-2 at 26-32.
The magistrate judge found the
plaintiff’s second argument disingenuous because “[e]ven a cursory
review of the ALJ’s RFC determination makes clear that the ALJ
included two nonexertional limitations in Plaintiff’s RFC.”
No. 28 at 10.
Specifically, the ALJ stated that the plaintiff is
“limited to unskilled, low stress (meaning work in a stable
environment) work with minimal (which is less than occasional, but
more than none) interaction with the public.”
ECF No. 9-2 at 26.
Next, the magistrate judge found that the ALJ’s assessment of
the plaintiff’s subjective complaints is supported by substantial
The plaintiff argues that the ALJ’s evaluation of the
plaintiff’s subjective complaints did not satisfy the requisite
two-step process under the step-five analysis because “[t]he ALJ
made no finding regarding whether the Plaintiff had established by
objective medical evidence an impairment which could cause the
degree and type of subjective symptoms alleged.” ECF No. 13 at 11.
However, the magistrate judge determined that, by concluding that
the plaintiff has two severe impairments, the ALJ concluded that
the plaintiff met his threshold obligation of showing that a
medical impairment exists that is capable of causing the degree and
type of pain alleged.
ECF No. 9-2 at 23-24.
The magistrate judge
found that, once the plaintiff made that showing, the ALJ was not
complaints of pain, but rather was required to weigh the subjective
complaints against the relevant evidence of record.
inconsistent with the evidence of record.
However, the magistrate
judge concluded that, over the course of six-plus pages, the ALJ
properly considered all of the evidence of record when determining
assessment was sufficiently specific.
ECF No. 9-2 at 26-32.
This Court finds no error in any of the above determinations
of the magistrate judge and thus upholds his rulings.
For the reasons above, the magistrate judge’s report and
recommendation (ECF No. 28) is hereby AFFIRMED and ADOPTED.
the defendant’s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 15) is GRANTED
and the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 12) is
It is ORDERED that this civil action be DISMISSED WITH
PREJUDICE and STRICKEN from the active docket of this Court.
Finally, this Court finds that the parties were properly
advised by the magistrate judge that failure to timely object to
the report and recommendation in this action would result in a
waiver of appellate rights.
Because the plaintiff has failed to
object, he has waived his right to seek appellate review of this
See Wright v. Collins, 766 F.2d 841, 844-45 (4th Cir.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
The Clerk is DIRECTED to transmit a copy of this memorandum
opinion and order to counsel of record herein. Pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 58, the Clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment
on this matter.
January 12, 2018
/s/ Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?