United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Newport News Division
L. WRIGHT ALLEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Jennifer Yarrington brought this action under 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of the final decision
of the Acting Social Security Commissioner ("the
Commissioner") to deny her claim for Disability
Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental
Security Income ("SSI") under the Social Security
Act. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 636(b)(1)(B) and (C),
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), and the Local Rules,
this matter was referred to a United States Magistrate Judge
for a Report and Recommendation ("R&R"). ECF
R&R filed on January 26, 2018, the Magistrate Judge
concluded that the decision by the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") to deny Ms. Yarrington's claim was
supported by substantial evidence. ECF No. 14. Accordingly,
the Magistrate Judge recommended denying Ms. Yarrington's
Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion to Remand (ECF Nos. 9,
10), granting the Commissioner's Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF No. 12), affirming the decision of the
Commissioner, and dismissing the case with prejudice. ECF No.
14 at 21.
of the Report, each party was advised of the right to file
written objections to the finds and recommendations made by
the Magistrate Judge. Id. On February 9, 2018, the
Court received Plaintiffs objections to the Magistrate
Judge's R&R. ECF No. 15. On February 23, 2018, the
Court received the Commissioner's response to Plaintiffs
objections. ECF No. 16.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3), the Court
reviews de novo any part of a magistrate judge's
recommendation to which a party has properly objected.
See also Wimmer 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 ... by a district judge ....").
reviewing a decision made in accordance with 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). Accordingly,
if the Commissioner's denial of benefits is supported by
substantial evidence and was reached by applying the correct
legal standard, the Court must affirm the Commissioner's
final decision. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990).
evidence" is "such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion; [i]t consists of more than a mere scintilla of
evidence but may be somewhat less than a preponderance."
Craig, 76 F.3d at 589 (citations omitted). In
reviewing for substantial evidence, this Court does not
reweigh conflicting evidence, make credibility
determinations, or substitute its judgment for that of the
Commissioner. Id. The Commissioner's findings as
to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are
conclusive and must be affirmed. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390 (1971).
recounted in the R&R, Ms. Yarrington initially filed an
application for DIB and SSI in September 2012, alleging
disability due to migraines and mental health impairments.
ECF No. 14 at 7-8. After the Social Security Administration
denied her initial application and her application on
reconsideration, the ALJ found that Ms. Yarrington was not
disabled during the period of the alleged disability and
denied her claim for benefits on February 10, 2016. The
Appeals Council denied Ms. Yarrington's request for
review on February 7, 2017. Id. at 2.
denying Ms. Yarrington's application, the ALJ made the
following determinations, as required by 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520 and 416.920: (1) that Ms. Yarrington
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity between the
alleged onset date, April 27, 2012, and the date of the
hearing; (2) that Ms. Yarrington suffered from severe
impairments that included both mental and physical
conditions; (3) that the evidence failed to demonstrate that
Ms. Yarrington had an impairment or combination of
impairments that equaled one of the listed impairments set
forth in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; (4) that
Ms. Yarrington was unable to perform past relevant work; but
that (5) work suitable for Ms. Yarrington's residual
functional capacity existed in significant numbers in the
national economy. See Id. at 11-12. After the
Appeals Council denied Ms. Yarrington's request for
review, Ms. Yarrington filed the instant Complaint for
judicial review of the Commissioner's decision, which was
then referred to the Magistrate Judge. See ECF Nos.
1, 7. As reviewed above, the Magistrate Judge's R&R
recommended that Ms. Yarrington's Motion for Summary
Judgment and Motion to Remand be denied, that the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted,
and that the final decision of the Commissioner be affirmed.
See ECF No. 14 at 21.
Yarrington presents two objections to the R&R, both of
which are substantially similar to the grounds presented in
her Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion for Remand: (1)
that the ALJ, in rejecting the opinion of Ms.
Yarrington's treating psychiatrist as to Ms.
Yarrington's ability to work, did not properly weigh the
medical opinion evidence regarding her mental impairments;
and (2) that the ALJ failed to properly evaluate Ms.
Yarrington's credibility. ECF No. 15 at 2-4.
Weight of Medical Opinion Evidence Regarding Ms.