United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
OPINION AND ORDER
COKE MORGAN. JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Charlie Parker,
Jr.'s ("Plaintiffs") Objections to the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. Doc. 19.
For the reasons explained herein, the Court OVERRULES
Plaintiffs objections and ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation ("R&R"), Doc. 18.
does not object to the recitation of the procedural and
factual background of this case contained in the R&R,
which sets forth, inter alia, the following facts.
Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance
benefits ("DIB") with the Social Security Administration
("SSA") on August 13, 2012, which was denied in May
2013. R&R at 1. Plaintiff filed a second application for
DIB with the SSA on July 31, 2014, alleging a disability
onset date of February 14, 2007. Id. at 1-2.
Plaintiff subsequently amended his alleged disability onset
date to June 1, 2012. Id. at 2. Plaintiff suffers
from "various mental health issues, including bipolar
disorder and PTSD." W. Plaintiff claims that these
debilitating conditions prevent him from working.
See Doc. 1. ("Compl."). Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
R&R at 2; R. 81, 96. At Plaintiffs request, an
administrative hearing was conducted on August 13, 2015.
R&R at 2; R. 28-62. The Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act and denied
Plaintiffs claim for DIB. R. 13-23. Plaintiff sought to
appeal the ALJ's decision, but the Appeals Council denied
his request for review on January 19, 2016, making the
ALJ's decision the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security's ("Defendant's" or "the
Commissioner's") final decision. R&R at 2;
see also R. 16-19; 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
1383(c)(3); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.
March 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint against the
Commissioner, seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision. See Compl. Defendant filed an
Answer on August 1, 2016. Doc. 5. On August 9, 2016,
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Remand. Doc. 7. After this Court
referred the matter to the Magistrate Judge on August 12,
2016, Doc. 9, both Parties filed motions for summary
judgment, Docs. 13, 15. On April 17, 2017, the Magistrate
Judge issued the R&R, which concludes that substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's decision, that Plaintiff
suffers "moderate" limitations, and that Plaintiff
is capable of performing "light work." R&R at
9; R. 17-18. Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge RECOMMENDS
that the Court DENY Plaintiffs Motion for Remand, Doc. 7, and
Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. 13, and GRANT
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, Doc. 15. R&R
1, 2017, Plaintiff filed his objections to the R&R. Doc.
19. Defendant did not file a response to Plaintiffs
objections. This matter is now ripe for the Court's
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court reviews de
novo any part of a Magistrate Judge's
recommendation to which a party has properly objected.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). The Court may then "accept,
reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive
further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate
judge with instructions." Id. The Court reviews
those parts of a Magistrate Judge's recommendation to
which a party has not objected for clear error. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72; see also Diamond v.
Colonial Life & Ace. Ins. Co.. 416 F.3d 310, 315-16
(4th Cir. 2005).
exercising de novo review of the parts of a
Magistrate Judge's recommendation to which a party has
properly objected, the Court analyzes the Commissioner's
final decision using the same standard as that used by the
Magistrate Judge. Specifically, the Court's review of the
Commissioner's decision is limited to determining whether
that decision was supported by substantial evidence on the
record and whether the proper legal standard was applied in
evaluating the evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Johnson
v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650, 653 (4th Cir. 2005) (per
curiam). Substantial evidence is defined as "such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept to
support a conclusion." Id. (quoting Craig
v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996)) (internal
quotation mark omitted). Courts have further explained that
substantial evidence is less than a preponderance of
evidence, but more than a mere scintilla of evidence.
Laws v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir.
1966). Importantly, in reviewing the ALJ's decision the
Court does not "reweigh conflicting evidence, make
credibility determinations, or substitute [its] judgment for
that of the [ALJ]." Id. (quoting
Craig, 76 F.3d at 589) (internal quotation mark
omitted) (final alteration in original). Thus, if the Court
finds that there was substantial evidence to support the
ALJ's factual findings, even if there was also evidence
to support contrary findings, the ALJ's factual findings
must be upheld.
disagrees with the ALJ's conclusion that he is not
eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits. See Doc. 19
at 2. In his motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff asserts
Remand is warranted pursuant to the sixth sentence of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) for proper consideration of new and
material evidence and in accordance with Borders v.
Heckler, 777 F.2d 954 (4th Cir. 1985). In the
alternative, the ALJ's assessment of Plaintiffs residual
functional capacity [("RFC")] is not supported by
substantial evidence in the record because it is contrary to
the Fourth Circuit's finding in Mascio v.
Colvin, 780 F.3d 632 (4th Cir. 2015), because it is
contrary to the Fourth Circuit's finding in Bird v.
Commissioner of Social Security. 699 F.3d 337 (4th Cir.
2012), because the Appeals Council failed to consider
evidence submitted to it when it denied review pursuant to
Wilkins v. Secretary. Dept. of Health & Human
Servs., 953 F.2d 93 (4th Cir. 1991) (en banc) and in
accordance with Meyer v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 700 (4th
Cir. 2011), because the ALJ failed to accord any evidentiary
weight to the Compensation & Pension
("C&P") examination performed on July 18, 2012
in accordance with Gordon v. Schweiker, 725 F.2d 231
(4th Cir. 1984), and the ALJ improperly discredited the
opinion of the treating physician and failed to comply with
20 C.F.R. § 404.1527 and in accordance with Johnson
v. Barnhart, 434 F.3d 650, 654 (4th Cir. 2005).
Doc. 13 at 1-2.
R&R, the Magistrate Judge rejects Plaintiffs arguments
for remand and summary judgment. See R&R. Specifically,
the R&R recommends the following: (1) remand is not
warranted under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); (2) the ALJ's
assessment of Plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC") was supported by substantial evidence; and