United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. GROH CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
day, the above-styled matter came before this Court for
consideration of the Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge
James E. Seibert [ECF No. 16], filed on April 18, 2018. In
his R&R, Magistrate Judge Seibert finds that the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence.
Accordingly, he recommends that the Court grant the
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 14] and
deny the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgement [ECF
Lee Daft, Jr. (“Plaintiff”) filed an application
for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income on June 25, 2013. The applications were initially
denied on November 15, 2013, and again upon reconsideration
on February 14, 2014. Thereafter, the Plaintiff requested a
hearing, which was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on October 28, 2015. On November 12,
2015, the ALJ issued his decision that the Plaintiff was not
disabled. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's
request for review on January 18, 2017, and the Plaintiff
timely filed his complaint in this Court on May 12, 2017. On
September 18, 2017, the Plaintiff filed his motion for
summary judgment. ECF No. 10. The Commissioner filed her
motion for summary judgement on November 15, 2017. ECF No.
14. Having reviewed the parties' briefs, Magistrate Judge
Seibert entered his R&R on April 18, 2018. ECF No. 16.
Standards of Review
Review of the R&R
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.
Review of the ALJ's 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 not disabled at a certain
step, the ALJ does not proceed to the next step. Id.
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.
under the five-step process, the ALJ found the Plaintiff was
not disabled because the Plaintiff can perform jobs that
exist in ...