United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
CHRISTIAN J. MCNIFF, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
O'Grady United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on the Report and
Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge John F.
Anderson (Dkt. 19), Plaintiff Christian McNiff s Objections
thereto (Dkt. 20), and Defendant's Opposition to
Plaintiffs Objections (Dkt. 22). The Court has reviewed
de novo those portions of the Report and
Recommendation to which objection has been made. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Having reviewed the record,
the Court finds no error in Judge Anderson's Report and
Recommendation, which the Court hereby APPROVES AND
ADOPTS IN FULL.
objects that Judge Anderson erred in finding that the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly explained
the connection between the medical evidence considered and
the accommodation, or lack thereof, for Plaintiffs moderate
limitations in concentration, persistence, and pace in the
residual functional capacity as required by Mascio v.
Colvin, 780 F.3d 632, 638 (4th Cir. 2015). The Court
determined that Plaintiff "has the residual functional
capacity to ... carry  out simple to moderately complex
tasks in 2-hour increments with 10- or 15-minute breaks
in-between." AR 28. In making this finding, the ALJ
recognized that Plaintiff reported having difficulties
concentrating, but explained that the objective evidence and
medical findings in the record were not consistent with
Plaintiff's allegations and instead indicated that
Plaintiff had normal attention and concentration capacities.
AR 27-32. However, giving Plaintiff the benefit of the doubt,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff had a "moderate"
concentration, persistence, or pace limitation, AR 27, and
included the above limitation to his residual functional
capacity to account for Plaintiffs subjective complaints and
the evidence of some cognitive impairment, AR 31. The ALJ
explained that based on the medical record, Plaintiffs
subjective reports, and Dr. Weinberg's suggestions for
how Plaintiff could compensate for his reported difficulties,
the ALJ determined that a residual functional capacity
limitation of "simple to moderately complex tasks in
2-hour increments with 10- or 15-minute breaks
in-between" would sufficiently account for Plaintiffs
concentration, persistence, or pace impairments. AR 32.
the ALJ appropriately provided for specific limitations in
Plaintiffs residual functional capacity that would account
for and accommodate his moderate impairments in
concentration, persistence, or pace. See, e.g., Neyer v.
Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., 2015 WL 5773239, at
*2 (D. Md. Sept. 29, 2015) (finding that "the
ALJ adequately accounted for [the plaintiffs] moderate
limitation in concentration, persistence, or pace by limiting
her to performing simple tasks in two-hour increments").
The limitations imposed by the ALJ were substantially
supported by the opinions of the doctors in the record and,
unlike in Mascio, the ALJ explained the basis for
her conclusions. Plaintiffs objections are therefore without
merit. See, e.g., Robey v. Comm V of Soc.
Sec, 2016 WL 1065830, at *7 (W.D. Va. Mar. 16, 2016)
(distinguishing Mascio because "the medical
evidence supports the conclusion that, despite [the
plaintiffs] moderate limitation in concentration,
persistence, or pace, [the plaintiff] is capable of
performing the basic mental demands of simple, unskilled work
with occasional social interaction" and the court was
"not 'left to guess about how the ALJ arrived at his
upon review of the record and for good cause shown, the Court
hereby APPROVES AND ADOPTS IN FULL
Magistrate Judge Anderson's Report and Recommendation
(Dkt. 19). It is therefore
that Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (Dkt. 11) is
DENIED. It is further
that the Defendant's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment
(Dkt. 1 5) is GRANTED. It is farther
that the final decision of the Commissioner be and is
clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of Defendant
Andrew M. Saul and against Plaintiff Christian J. McNiff
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58.
IS SO ORDERED.
 When this suit was filed, Nancy A
Berryhill was the Acting Commissioner of Social Security.
Andrew M. Saul has since assumed the office of Commissioner
of Social Security and has therefore automatically been
substituted as the ...