United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Elkins
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PRESTON BAILEY, DISTRICT JUDGE.
day, the above-styled matter came before this Court for
consideration of the Report and Recommendation of United
States Magistrate Judge James E. Seibert [Doc. 15]. Pursuant
to this Court's local rules, this action was referred to
Magistrate Judge Seibert for submission of a proposed report
and recommendation (“R&R”). Magistrate Judge
Seibert filed his R&R on September 12, 2017, wherein he
recommends that the plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment be denied, that the defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment be granted, that the decision of the
Commissioner be affirmed, and that this case be dismissed
with prejudice. (Id.). On September 19, 2017, the
plaintiff timely filed objections to the R&R [Doc. 16].
For the reasons set forth below, this Court adopts Magistrate
Judge Seibert's R&R.
26, 2013, the plaintiff filed a Title II application for a
Period of Disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”), alleging disability beginning May 29,
2013 [Doc. 7-2 at 24]. The claim was initially denied on
September 24, 2013 (Id.), and again upon
reconsideration on November 22, 2013 (Id.). The
plaintiff then filed a written request for hearing, and later
appeared and testified at a hearing on May 22, 2015, in front
of Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Karl
Alexander. [Id. at 35]. On August 21, 2015, the ALJ
entered a decision finding that the plaintiff was not
disabled under Sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social
Security Act. (Id.).
accordance with the five-step evaluation process described in
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, the ALJ made the following
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 29, 2013, the alleged onset date. (20
C.F.R. § 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: bipolar
I/II disorder without psychotic features; anxiety disorder,
not otherwise specified; personality disorder not otherwise
specified; and morbid obesity. (20 C.F.R. §
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525,
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(c) except: should work in a low stress environment
with no production line or assembly line type of pace, no
independent decision-making responsibilities, and minimal
changes in the daily work routine; is limited to unskilled
work involving only routine and repetitive instructions and
tasks; should have no interaction with the general public,
and minimal, no more than occasional interaction with
co-workers and supervision.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
(20 C.F.R. § 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on March 31, 1976, and was 37 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual, on the alleged
disability onset date. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills. (See SSR 82-41
and 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering 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. (20 C.F.R. §§
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from May 29, 2013, through the
date of this decision. (20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g)).
September 28, 2016, the Appeals Council denied the
plaintiff's request for review, which made the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security [Doc. 7-2 at 2]. On November 22, 2016, the plaintiff
filed the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security for denying the plaintiff's claim for
DIB under Title II of the Social Security Act [Doc. 1]. The
R&R recommends affirming the decision of the ALJ because
that decision complied with the applicable law and
regulations and was supported by substantial evidence [Doc.
15 at 9].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court must conduct a
de novo review of any portion of the magistrate
judge's 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.” See Webb v. Califano, 458 F.Supp.
825 (E.D. Cal. 1979). Because the plaintiff filed timely
objections, this Court will undertake a de novo
review as to those portions of the report and recommendation
to which objections were made.
ALJ's findings will be upheld if supported by substantial
evidence. See Milburn Colliery Co. v. Hicks, 138
F.3d 524, 528 (4th Cir. 1998). Substantial evidence is that
which a “reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Hays v. Sullivan, 907
F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990) (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Further, the
“possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions
from the evidence does not prevent an administrative
agency's findings from being supported by substantial
evidence.” Sec'y of Labor v. Mutual Mining,
Inc., 80 F.3d 110, 113 (4th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Consolo v. Fed. Mar. Comm'n, 383 U.S. 607, 620
(1996)). The issue is not whether a claimant is disabled, but
whether the ALJ's finding of disabled or not disabled is
supported by substantial evidence and was reached based upon
a correct application of the relevant law. Meyer v.
Astrue, 662 F.3d 700, 704 (4th Cir. 2011) (citing
Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996)).