United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
TERESA A. NANRY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Raymond A. Jackson United Slates District Judge.
matter is currently before the Court on Teresa A. Nanry'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 Acting Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration's ("Defendant"
or "Acting Commissioner") motion for summary
judgment is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs motions
for summary judgment and remand are DENIED.
BACKGROUND & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits
("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income on January
31, 2013, and February 15, 2013, respectively, and alleged
that due to post-traumatic stress disorder
("PTSD"), anxiety, depression, and other back
related problems, she became disabled on November 30, 2012.
R. 294-308, 367. The Acting Commissioner denied Plaintiffs
application first, and again after reconsideration. R.90-153,
Plaintiffs request, an Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") held a hearing on this matter on March 9,
2015, and again denied the benefits. R. 64-89, 154-66. The
case was further appealed and on July 15, 2015, the Appeals
Council vacated the ALJ's decision and remanded the case.
R.173-75. The ALJ was directed to "[g]ive further
consideration to the claimant's maximum mental residual
functional capacity and provide appropriate rationale with
specific references to evidence of record in support of the
assessed limitations-----" Id. After a second
hearing, the ALJ denied Plaintiffs claim for benefits on
December 18, 2015. R. 22-37. On January 6, 2017, the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiffs request to review the decision,
thereby making the ALJ's ruling the final decision of the
Acting Commissioner. R. 1-6.
February 8, 2017, Plaintiff, through counsel, filed a
complaint seeking the Court's review of the ALJ's
decision. ECFNo. 1. The Acting Commissioner filed an Answer
on June 8, 2017. ECFNo. 4. Plaintiff filed a Motion for
Summary Judgment and a Motion to Remand on July 7, 2017, and
Defendant filed a response in opposition and its own motion
for summary judgment on August 7, 2017. ECF Nos. 8-12. On
January 31, 2018, a United States Magistrate Judge filed an
R&R, and recommended that Plaintiffs Motions for Summary
Judgment and Remand be denied and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment be granted. ECF No. 13. On February 14,
2018, Plaintiff filed Objections to the R&R. ECF No. 14.
On February 26, 2018, Defendant filed a response in
opposition to the objections. ECF No. 15. This matter is now
ripe for disposition and does not require a hearing.
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 States 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 preponderance." Id.
(internal quotation and citations omitted).x`
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.
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. ECF No.
14. After a full review of the record and the parties'
briefs, the Court, having given fresh consideration to the
Magistrate Judge's findings, holds that the ALJ's
decision was supported by substantial evidence. Therefore,
for that reason and additional reasons discussed below, the
Court ADOPTS the R&R.
Medical Opinion Evidence
first objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding that the
ALJ did not err when it rejected the opinions from treating
physicians Dr. Bryan and Dr. Zane regarding her mental
impairments. Specifically, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ
improperly rejected the opinions of psychiatrist Dr. Bryan
and psychologist Dr. Zane, while giving too much weight to
the opinion ...