United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. CHAMBERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
action for judicial review of an administrative determination
under the Social Security Act was referred to the Honorable
Dwane L. Tinsley, United States Magistrate Judge, for
proposed findings of fact and recommendation for disposition
(“PF&R”) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). Now pending before the Court are
Plaintiff's and Defendant's Briefs in Support of
Judgment on the Pleadings. ECF Nos. 8 & 9. In the
PF&R, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court
DENY Defendant's Motion,
GRANT Plaintiff's Motion,
REVERSE the final decision of the
Commissioner, and REMAND this case to the
Social Security Administration for further proceedings.
Defendant objects. ECF. No. 11. For the following reasons,
the Court REJECTS the Magistrate Judge's
PF&R and REMANDS this case to the
Magistrate Judge for further proceedings consistent with this
Memorandum Opinion and Order.
October 29, 2013, Plaintiff filed a claim for supplemental
security disability benefits with the Social Security
Administration, alleging disability beginning on October 1,
2009. Her claim was initially denied on February 21, 2014,
and denied upon reconsideration on June 16, 2014. Tr. 95-99
& 106-08, ECF No. 7-5, at 2-6 & 13-15. Plaintiff
filed a request for hearing on July 1, 2014. See Tr.
at 113-15, ECF No. 7-5, at 20-22. An administrative hearing
was held on April 28, 2015, during which an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) heard evidence on
Plaintiff's claims. Tr. at 24-69, ECF No. 7-3, at 2-47.
Both Plaintiff and a Vocational Expert testified.
Plaintiff's alleged onset date of disability also was
amended to October 29, 2013. Tr. 29-30 & 198, ECF No.
7-3, at 7-8, ECF No. 7-7, at 30.
consideration of the case, the ALJ entered a decision on June
12, 2015, finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. Tr. at
10-20, ECF No. 7-2, at 11-21. Plaintiff sought review of the
ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council on August 12, 2015.
Tr. at 6, ECF No. 7-2, at 7. After consideration of the
administrative record, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on October 3, 2016,
thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of
the Commissioner. Tr. at 1-3, ECF No. 7-2, at 2-4.
filed the present Complaint on December 7, 2016, seeking
judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision to
deny her claims for benefits. ECF No. 1. In her Brief in
Support of Judgment on the Pleadings, Plaintiff makes two
arguments: (1) “Whether the decision of the
Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial evidence
when the Administrative Law Judge's Residual Functional
Capacity Evaluation did not address all of Plaintiff's
Limitations, ” and (2) “Whether the decision of
the Administrative Law Judge is supported by substantial
evidence when the Administrative Law Judge failed to properly
consider the opinion of the Vocational Expert who testified
that Plaintiff is unable to engage in substantial
activity[.]” Plf.'s Br. in Supp. of J. on the
Pleadings, at 4, ECF No. 8.
PF&R, however, the Magistrate Judge found he could not
conduct a meaningful review because “the ALJ did not
indicate the weight given to Claimant's treating
physicians Dr. Hansen and Dr. Soleymani.”
PF&R, at 14, ECF No. 10. Therefore, the
Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court remanded back to
the ALJ. The Magistrate Judge also said “the ALJ did
not identify which State Agency opinions he gave great
weight.” Id. Neither of these reasons were
raised by Plaintiff. Defendant filed timely objections to the
PF&R on March 12, 2018. ECF No. 11.
Standards of Review
Standard of Review of PF&R
reviewing the PF&R, this Court must “make a de novo
determination of those portions of the … [Magistrate
Judge's] proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). In
doing so, the Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in
whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge.” Id. The Court, however, is
not required to review the factual or legal conclusions of
the Magistrate Judge to which no objections are made.
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 150 (1985).
Standard of Review of Commissioner's Decision
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), “[t]he court shall have
power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the
record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or
without remanding the cause for a rehearing.” After
reviewing the prescribed materials, if the Court finds that
the Commissioner's decision is supported by
“substantial evidence, ” the Court must affirm
the decision. Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773,
775 (4th Cir. 1972).
makes two objections to the PF&R. Def.'s Obj. to
PF&R, ECF No. 11. First, Defendant argues that the
Magistrate Judge erred in recommending remand based upon the
ALJ's failure to indicate the weight he gave to
Plaintiff's treating physicians. Id. at 2-6.
Second, Defendant asserts the Magistrate Judge erred in
finding the ALJ erred in failing to identify what ...