United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
L. Wright Allen . United States District Judge
Raymond Barefoot brings 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 his claim for Disability
Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). 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 No. 10.
R&R filed on February 22, 2018, the Magistrate Judge
concluded that the decision by the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") to deny Mr. Barefoot's claim was
supported by substantial evidence. ECFNo. 16. The Magistrate
Judge recommended denying Mr. Barefoot's Motion for
Summary Judgment (ECF No. 12) and granting the
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 14),
and affirming the decision of the Commissioner. ECF No. 16 at
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 March 5, 2018, the
Court received Plaintiffs objections to the Magistrate
Judge's R&R. ECF No. 17. On March 14, 2018, the Court
received the Commissioner's response to Plaintiffs
objections. ECF No. 18. The matter is now ripe for
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) C'[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.
Chafer, 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, 16 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, Mr. Barefoot initially filed an
application for DIB on January 11, 2013, alleging disability
as of September 29, 2012 due to an injury to his left foot
and the subsequent amputation of his left leg below the knee.
ECF No. 16 at 2; R. at 156-57, 168, 171. After the agency
denied his initial application and his application on
reconsideration, the ALJ found that Mr. Barefoot was not
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 401-434, between September 29, 2012 and
March 31, 2013, the period of the alleged disability.
Accordingly, the ALJ denied his claim for benefits. The
Appeals Council then denied Mr. Barefoot's request for
review on December 14, 2016. ECF No. 16 at 2.
denying Mr. Barefoot's application, the ALJ made the
following determinations, as required by 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520 and 416.920: (1) that Mr. Barefoot had
not engaged in substantial gainful activity between the
alleged onset date and the date that he was last insured, the
period of the alleged disability; (2) that Mr. Barefoot
suffered from a left knee amputation, which was a severe
impairment; (3) that the evidence failed to demonstrate that
Mr. Barefoot 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 Mr. Barefoot
was unable to perform past relevant work due to the severe
impairment; but that (5) work suitable for Mr. Barefoot's
residual functional capacity existed in significant numbers
in the national economy. See Id. at 12. After the
Appeals Council denied Mr. Barefoot's request for review,
Mr. Barefoot filed the instant Complaint for judicial review
of the Commissioner's decision, which was then referred
to the Magistrate Judge. See ECF Nos. 1, 10. As
discussed above, the Magistrate Judge's R&R
recommended that Mr. Barefoot's Motion for Summary
Judgment 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. 16 at 23.
Barefoot presents three objections to the R&R and the
Magistrate Judge's findings: (1) that the ALJ failed to
properly evaluate Mr. Barefoot's impairments and that,
accordingly, the ALJ's Step Three analysis, which
concluded that the evidence failed to demonstrate that Mr.
Barefoot had a qualifying impairment, was not supported by
substantial analysis; (2) that the ALJ improperly assessed
the opinion of Mr. Barefoot's treating orthopedic
specialist; and (3) that the ALJ's decision to discount
Mr. Barefoot's testimony was not supported by substantial
evidence. ECF No. 17 at 1, 4, 7.
The ALJ's ...