United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division
Ellis, Jr. United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on plaintiffs request for judicial
review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner")
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Commissioner's
final decision found that Plaintiff Imadeldeen Hamed was no
longer disabled as of December 18, 2014, and therefore was
no longer entitled to disability insurance benefits
("DIB") and supplemental social security income
("SSI"). The Commissioner's final decision was
based on a finding by the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") and Appeals Council for the Office of
Disability Adjudication and Review ("Appeals
matter was referred to the magistrate judge, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), for a Report and Recommendation
("R&R") on the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment. On October 18, 2019, the magistrate judge
issued an R&R recommending affirmance of the
Commissioner's final decision, thus denying plaintiffs
motion for summary judgment and granting the
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment. More
specifically, the R&R recommends three findings: (i) that
the ALJ's residual functional capacity
("RFC") determination is supported by substantial
evidence, (ii) that the ALJ properly explained the weight
accorded to plaintiffs treating physicians, and (iii) that
Commissioner's final decision denying plaintiff DIB and
SSI benefits for the period December 18, 2014 through the
date of the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence and should be affirmed.
November 1, 2019, plaintiff filed objections to the R&R.
See Dkt 31. Plaintiff objected to two aspects of the
magistrate judge's R&R, namely (i) the R&R's
rejection of plaintiffs argument that the Administrative
Record was incomplete because it did not include a December
7, 2018 letter from plaintiffs counsel to the Appeals
Council, and (ii) the R&R's finding that substantial
evidence supported the ALJ's determination that
plaintiffs RFC allowed plaintiff to perform work that exists
in the national economy. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1), a de novo review of "those portions
of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made" is required.
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
reasons that follow, the magistrate judge's R&R is
adopted, plaintiffs objections are overruled, and the
administrative decision is affirmed.
magistrate judge's R&R fully and correctly sets forth
the lengthy factual and procedural history of this case.
See Dkt. 30 at 2-14. Accordingly, the Court adopts
as its own the procedural and factual background set forth in
the R&R. In short, the Social Security Administration
(the "SSA") found plaintiff disabled, as that term
is defined in the statute, and awarded plaintiff benefits
effective December 26, 2007 as a result of plaintiff s cancer
diagnosis.Then, on December 18, 2014, the SSA
determined plaintiff was no longer disabled as defined by
statute and terminated plaintiffs benefits because the SSA
determined plaintiffs condition had medically improved such
that plaintiff could perform some work that exists in the
national economy. This litigation arises out of plaintiff s
requests for reconsideration of the SSA decision terminating
fourteen days after being served with a copy of a magistrate
judge's R&R, "any party may serve and file
written objections to such proposed findings and
recommendations as provided by rules of court." 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). If such objections are filed, the
district court "shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report or specified
proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is
made." Id. Here, plaintiff timely filed two
objections to the magistrate judge's R&R.
objection requirement is designed to allow the district court
to "focus on specific issues, not the [magistrate
judge's] report as a whole." United States v.
Midgette, 478 F.3d 616, 621 (4th Cir. 2007). Such a
focus furthers the purpose of magistrate review, namely
conserving judicial resources. Id. Therefore,
objections must be specific and particularized in order to
direct the attention of the district court to "only
those issues that remain in dispute after the magistrate
judge has made findings and recommendations."
Id. Thus, the Fourth Circuit has made clear that
"[a] general objection to the entirety of the magistrate
judge's report is tantamount to a failure to
object." Tyler v. Wales, 84 Fed.Appx. 289, 290
(4th Cir. 2003).
de novo review of the magistrate judge's R&R
is confined to the two objections raised by plaintiff in his
motion, namely (i) the R&R's rejection of plaintiff s
argument that the Administrative Record was incomplete
because it did not include plaintiffs counsel's December
7, 2018 letter, and (ii) the R&R's finding that
substantial evidence supported the ALJ's determination
that plaintiffs RFC allowed plaintiff to perform work that
exists in the national economy.
plaintiff objects to the R&R's finding that the
Administrative Record was complete. Plaintiff argues that
because the Administrative Record did not include a December
7, 2018 letter from plaintiffs counsel to the Appeals
Council, the record was incomplete. Here, plaintiffs
objection clearly fails.
initial matter, plaintiff raised this issue for the first
time in plaintiffs reply brief to defendant's cross
motion for summary judgment. See Dkt. 28. The Fourth
Circuit has made clear that ordinarily it is improper to
consider arguments raised for the first time in a reply brief
"because it would be unfair to the appellee and would
risk an improvident or ill-advised opinion on the legal
issues raised." Hunt v. Nuth,57 F.3d 1327,
1338 (4th Cir. 1995); see also United States v.
Vogt,910 F.2d 1184, 1198 (4th Cir. 1990) (noting, but
not invoking, procedural waiver of issue raised ...