United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
GARY M. PIERANTOZZI, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. GROH CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
day, the above-styled matter came before the Court for
consideration of the Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge
James E. Seibert. Magistrate Judge Seibert entered the
R&R on August 30, 2017. ECF No. 14. In the R&R,
Magistrate Judge Seibert recommends the Court grant the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 12]
because the Administrative Law Judge complied with the
applicable laws and her decision is supported by substantial
evidence. Magistrate Judge Seibert recommends the Court deny
the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 11.
Pierantozzi (“Plaintiff”) filed an application
for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income on August 29, 2013. The application was initially
denied on January 20, 2014, and again upon reconsideration on
March 28, 2014. The Plaintiff then requested a hearing, which
was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), who determined that the Plaintiff was
not disabled. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's
request for review, and he timely filed his complaint in this
Court on February 24, 2017. Thereafter, the Plaintiff filed a
motion for summary judgment on June 8, 2017. ECF No. 11. The
Commissioner filed her motion for summary judgement on July
10, 2017. ECF No. 12. Magistrate Judge Seibert then entered
the R&R on August 30, 2017. ECF No. 14.
Standards of Review
Review of the R&R
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court must review
de novo those portions of the magistrate judge's
findings to which a party objects. However, failure to file
objections permits the district court to review the R&R
under the standards that the district court believes are
appropriate, and if parties do not object to an issue, the
parties= right to de novo review is waived as to
that issue. See Webb v. Califano, 468 F.Supp. 825
(E.D. Cal. 1979). Therefore, this Court will conduct a de
novo review only as to those portions of the R&R to
which any party objects and will review the remaining
portions of the R&R for clear error.
Review of the ALJ Decision
Social Security Act limits this Court's review of a final
decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's decision,
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971), and
(2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal
standards, Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456
(4th Cir. 1990). The phrase “supported by substantial
evidence” means “more than a mere
scintilla” and “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” See Perales, 402 U.S. at 401
(citing Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197,
reviewing court must not re-weigh the evidence or substitute
its judgment for that of the Commissioner, so long as that
decision is supported by substantial evidence. Hays,
907 F.2d at 1456. Ultimately, it is the duty of the ALJ
reviewing a case, not the responsibility of the Court, to
make findings of fact and to resolve conflicts in the
evidence. King v. Califano, 599 F.2d 597, 599 (4th
Cir. 1979) (“This Court does not find facts or try the
case de novo when reviewing disability
determinations.”); see also Seacrist v.
Weinberger, 538 F.2d 1054, 1056-57 (4th Cir. 1976)
(“We note that it is the responsibility of the
[Commissioner] and not the courts to reconcile
inconsistencies in the medical evidence, and that it is the
claimant who bears the risk of nonpersuasion.”).
determine whether a claimant is disabled, the ALJ conducts a
five-step evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. ' 404.1520(a)(4).
If the ALJ finds the claimant is disabled or not disabled at
a certain step, the ALJ does not proceed to the next step.
Id. At step one, the ALJ must determine whether the
claimant is engaging in substantial gainful activity. The ALJ
then determines whether the claimant has a severe impairment
at step two. Next, the ALJ Determines whether the claimant
has a listed impairment (20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1) and conducts a Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”) assessment. At step four, the ALJ
considers the RFC assessment to determine whether the
claimant can perform past relevant work. Finally, during step
five the ALJ Considers the RFC assessment, age, education,
and work experience to determine whether the claimant can
perform any other work. See Davidson v. Astrue,
Civil Action No. 2:11-CV-55, 2012 WL 667296, at *3 (N.D.
W.Va. Feb. 28, 2012) (citing 20 C.F.R. ' 404.1520(a)(4)).
under the five-step process, the ALJ found the Plaintiff was
not disabled from any time between July 1, 2013, the alleged
onset date of his disability, through December 11, 2015, the
date of the ALJ's decision.