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Scheuvront v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg

March 12, 2018

JANET LILLIAN SCHEUVRONT, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          GINA M. GROH, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On this day, the above-styled matter came before this Court for consideration of the Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of United States Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble [ECF No. 24], entered on February 8, 2018. In his R&R Magistarate Judge Trumble recommends that the Court grant the Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 15] because the Administrative Law Judge's decision to deny the Plaintiff's claim for disability insurance benefits is supported by substantial evidence. Magistrate Judge Trumble further recommends that the Court deny the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgement. ECF No. 12.

         I. Background

         Janet Lillian Scheuvront ("Plaintiff") filed an application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on April 8, 2014. The application was initially denied on July 25, 2014, and again upon reconsideration on October 15, 2014. The Plaintiff then requested a hearing, which was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on June 29, 2016. The ALJ determined that the Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiffs request for review on June 20, 2017, and the Plaintiff timely filed her complaint in this Court on July 19, 2017. On October 12, 2017, the Plaintiff filed her motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 12. The Commissioner filed her motion for summary judgement on November 13, 2017. ECF No. 15. Thereafter, the Plaintiff filed a response to the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment on November 21, 2017. ECF No. 17. Having reviewed the parties' briefs, Magistrate Judge Trumble entered his R&R on February 8, 2018. ECF No. 21.

         II. Standards of Review

         A. Review of the R&R

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court is required to make a de novo review of those portions of the R&R to which objection is made. However, failure to file objections permits the district court to review the R&R under the standard that it believes to be appropriate, and if parties do not object to an issue, the parties' right to de novo review is waived. See Webb v. Califano, 468 F.Supp. 825 (E.D. Cal. 1979). Additionally, if the Plaintiff's objections simply "reiterate[] the same arguments made by the objecting party in [her] original papers submitted to the magistrate judge ... the Court subjects that portion of the report-recommendation challenged by those arguments to only a clear error review." Taylor v. Astrue, 32 F.Supp.3d 253, 260 (N.D.N.Y. 2012). Therefore, the Court will conduct a de novo review of those portions of the R&R to which a party makes new objections and will review the remaining portions of the R&R for clear error.

         B. Review of the ALJ's Decision

         The 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, 229 (1938)).

         A 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.").

         C. Evaluation Process

         To 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 not disabled at a certain step, the ALJ does not proceed to the next step, ]d.

         At step one, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant is engaging in substantial gainful activity. Next, the ALJ determines whether the claimant has a severe impairment. Then, 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, at 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)).

         Here, under the five-step process, the ALJ found the Plaintiff was not disabled because she is capable of performing jobs in the ...


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