Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brown v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

March 22, 2018

KATHY YVETTE BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Elizabeth K. Dillon United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff Kathy Yvette Brown brought this action for review of defendant Nancy A. Berryhill's (the commissioner's) final decision denying her claim for supplemental security income (SSI) and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under the Social Security Act (the Act). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2012) (authorizing a district court to enter judgment “affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security”). The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, which the court referred to United States Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). In his report, the magistrate judge concluded that substantial evidence supported the commissioner's decision. (Dkt. No. 21.)

         Brown timely filed written objections (Dkt. No. 22), and the commissioner filed a response (Dkt. No. 23). After de novo review of the pertinent portions of the record, the report, and the filings by the parties, in conjunction with applicable law, the court agrees with the magistrate judge's recommendation. Accordingly, the court will grant defendant's motion for summary judgment, deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, and affirm the commissioner's decision.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The court adopts the recitation of facts and procedural background as set forth in the report. (Report 2-3, Dkt. No. 21.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review

         This court's review of the administrative law judge's (ALJ) underlying decision is limited. Specifically, “[a] district court's primary function in reviewing an administrative finding of no disability is to determine whether the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence.” Coffman v. Bowen, 829 F.2d 514, 517 (4th Cir. 1987). Substantial evidence does not require a “large or considerable amount of evidence, ” Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 564- 65 (1988); rather, it requires “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). This is “more than a mere scintilla of evidence [and] somewhat less than a preponderance.” Laws v. Celebrezze, 368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th Cir. 1966).

         Where, as here, a matter has been referred to a magistrate judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), this court reviews de novo the portions of the report to which a timely objection has been made. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3) (“The district judge must determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to.”); United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 673-74 (1980) (finding that de novo review of the magistrate's report and recommendation comports with due process requirements).

         In order for an objection to trigger de novo review, it must be made “with sufficient specificity so as reasonably to alert the district court of the true ground for the objection.” United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 622 (4th Cir. 2007). See also Page v. Lee, 337 F.3d 411, 416 n.3 (4th Cir. 2003). Further, objections must respond to a specific error in the report and recommendation. See Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982). General or conclusory objections, therefore, are not proper; they are in fact considered the equivalent of a waiver. Id. Likewise, an objection that merely repeats the arguments made in the briefs before the magistrate judge is a general objection and is treated as a failure to object. Moon v. BWX Techs, 742 F.Supp.2d 827, 829 (W.D. Va. 2010), aff'd, 498 F. App'x 268 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Veney v. Astrue, 539 F.Supp.2d 841, 844-46 (W.D. Va. 2008)). As other courts have recognized in the social security context, “[t]he Court may reject perfunctory or rehashed objections to R & R's that amount to a second opportunity to present the arguments already considered by the Magistrate Judge.” Heffner v. Berryhill, No. 2:16-cv-820, 2017 WL 3887155, at *3 (D.S.C. Sept. 6, 2017) (quoting Felton v. Colvin, No. 2:12-cv-558, 2014 WL 315773, at *7 (E.D. Va. Jan. 28, 2014)).

         B. Brown's Objections

         Brown raises two objections to the report. In general terms, Brown's first objection is that the ALJ did not satisfy the standards set forth by Social Security Ruling (SSR) 96-8p and, in particular, did not conduct the proper function-by-function analysis required by that ruling when determining her residual functional capacity (RFC). (Objs. 1-5, Dkt. No. 22.) As part of this objection, she specifically takes issue with the magistrate judge's statement that she did not point to any evidence that she was unable to maintain a “static work posture.” (Report 7, Dkt. No. 21.) She contends that the foregoing statement in the report was erroneous because she testified before the ALJ that she has difficulty walking, sitting, and standing; she can only do chores for approximately 10 minutes before needing to rest; she cannot sit, stand, or walk very long; and she rests three to four hours out of an eight hour day. (Objs. 1-2 (citing R. 46-47, 53-54, 67).)[1]

         Similarly, she claims that the ALJ's reliance on her reports of daily activities to conclude that she was not limited as she testified, do not provide substantial evidence for his decision because the limitations she described are not contradicted by her daily activities. She also claims that the RFC was not correct because the ALJ's explanations about the weight he gave to various medical opinions were incomplete and did not adequately explain his finding that she is capable of performing work at the light exertional level. (Objs. 3-4.)

         Based on all of these contentions, she theorizes that the ALJ's RFC findings are not supported by the record. As a result, she claims that the ALJ also erred when presenting hypothetical scenarios to the vocational expert based on that RFC. She argues that the report errs in ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.