United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson United states District Judge.
matter is currently before the Court on Dianne Richard
Cook's ("Plaintiff) objections to the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation ("R&R").
For the reasons set forth below, the R&R is ADOPTED, the
Social Security Administration Commissioner's
("Defendant") motion for summary judgment is
GRANTED, and Plaintiffs motions for summary judgment and
remand are DENIED.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits
("DIB") on December 22, 2011, alleging a disability
onset date of August 1, 2009, of lower back pain due to a
work-related injury. R. 193-207. The Commissioner denied
Plaintiffs application, first on May 2, 2012, and again after
reconsideration on January 4, 2013. R. 124-27, 141-47. At
Plaintiffs request, the ALJ held a hearing on November 21,
2013. R. 42-68. The ALJ denied Plaintiffs application on
January 15, 2014. R. 21-35. On April 15, 2015, the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiffs request to review the ALJ's
decision, thereby making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Acting Commissioner. R. 1-3.
19, 2015, Plaintiff, through counsel, filed a complaint
seeking the Court's review of the ALJ's decision. ECF
No. 1. The Acting Commissioner filed an Answer on August 20,
2015. ECF No. 4. Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment and a Motion to Remand on September 25, 2015. ECF
Nos. 8, 9. The Acting Commissioner filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment on October 28, 2015. ECF No. 11. On July 13, 2016, a
United States Magistrate Judge filed a R&R, in which he
recommended that Plaintiffs Motions for Summary Judgment and
Remand be denied, that Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment be granted, and that the Commissioner's final
decision (i.e., the ALJ's decision) be affirmed. ECF No.
25, 2016, Plaintiff filed Objections to the R&R. ECF No.
14. On August 4, 2016, Defendant filed a response. ECF No.
15. This matter is now ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
district judge is required to "determine de novo any
part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been
properly objected to." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The
"de novo" requirement means that a district court
judge must give "fresh consideration to those issues [in
the R&R] to which specific objection has been made by a
party." United Stales v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667,
675 (1980); see Wilmer v. Cook, 774 F.2d 68, 73 (4th
Cir. 1985) ("[A]ny individual findings of fact or
recommendations for disposition by the [Magistrate Judge], if
objected to, are subject to final de novo
determination on such objections by a district judge
...."). "The district judge may accept, reject, or
modify the recommended disposition; receive further evidence;
or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with
instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
district court reviewing an administrative decision under the
Social Security Act must determine whether the factual
findings are supported by substantial evidence and were
reached through application of the correct legal standard.
Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996)
(superseded by statute on other grounds). "Substantial
evidence" is "such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion, " and "consists of more than a mere
scintilla of evidence but may be somewhat less than a
preponderance." Id. (internal quotation and
reviewing for substantial evidence, the Court does not
re-weigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner (or the Commissioner's designate, the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ")). Id. The
ALJ's findings as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, are conclusive. 42 U.S.C. §
raises two objections to the R&R: 1) The ALJ failed to
properly weigh the medical opinion evidence; and 2) The ALJ
failed to properly evaluate Plaintiffs credibility. After a
full review of the record, the parties' briefs both on
Plaintiffs objections and on the underlying Motions for
Summary Judgment, the Court, having given fresh consideration
to the Magistrate Judge's findings, finds that the
ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence.
Therefore, for the additional reasons stated below, the Court
ADOPTS the R&R.
Medical Opinion Evidence
first objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding that the
ALJ properly weighed the medical opinion evidence to
determine Plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC"). Specifically, Plaintiff argues the ALJ
gave too little weight to the opinions of Dr. Caloras and Dr.