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Clark v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division

October 16, 2014

JASMINE DENISE CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

JAMES C. DEVER, III, Chief District Judge.

On September 4, 2014, Jasmine D. Clark ("Clark" or "plaintiff') filed a motion for reconsideration [D.E. 28] concerning this court's September 3, 2014 order adopting the Memorandum and Recommendation ("M&R") of Magistrate Judge Jones denying plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, granting the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings, and affirming the Commissioner's denial of Social Security benefits. Defendant did not respond. As explained below, the motion for reconsideration is denied.

The court has considered the motion for reconsideration under the governing standard. See, Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e); Zinkand v. Brown , 478 F.3d 634, 637 (4th Cir. 2007); Bogart v. Chapell , 396 F.3d 548, 555 (4th Cir. 2005); Hill v. Braxton , 277 F.3d 701, 708 (4th Cir. 2002); Pac. Ins. Co. v. Am. Nat'l Fire Ins. Co. , 148 F.3d 396, 403 (4th Cir. 1998); Hughes v. Bedsole , 48 F.3d 1376, 1382 (4th Cir. 1995); Collison v. Int'l Chem. Workers Union. Local 217 , 34 F.3d 233, 236 (4th Cir. 1994); Hutchinson v. Staton , 994 F.2d 1076, 1081 (4th Cir. 1993).

In the M&R [D.E. 25], Magistrate Judge Jones comprehensively analyzed Clark's attack on the ALJ's credibility assessment. See M&R 7-11. In her motion for reconsideration, Clark focuses on the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") discussion of Clark's medical noncompliance to discount the credibility of Clark's statements regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of symptoms associated with Clark's diabetes. See [D.E. 28-2] 1; Tr. [D.E. 11] 13-21 (ALJ opinion). Specifically, Clark argues that an ALJ may not deny benefits for medical noncompliance without making findings about why the claimant was noncompliant, citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1530 and Preston v. Heckler , 769 F.2d 988, 988-91 (4th Cir. 1985). See [D.E. 28-2] 1-3. Clark contends that the ALJ failed to comply with section 404.1530 and Preston.

Section 404.1530 states:

(a) What treatment you must follow. In order to get benefits, you must follow treatment prescribed by your physician if this treatment can restore your ability to work.
(b) When you do not follow prescribed treatment. If you do not follow the prescribed treatment without a good reason, we will not find you disabled or, if you are already receiving benefits, we will stop paying you benefits.
(c) Acceptable reasons for failure to follow prescribed treatment. We will consider your physical, mental, educational, and linguistic limitations (including any lack of facility with the English language) when determining if you have an acceptable reason for failure to follow prescribed treatment. The following are examples of a good reason for not following treatment:
(1) The specific medical treatment is contrary to the established teaching and tenets of your religion.
(2) The prescribed treatment would be cataract surgery for one eye, when there is an impairment of the other eye resulting in a severe loss of vision and is not subject to improvement through treatment.
(3) Surgery was previously performed with unsuccessful results and the same surgery is again being recommended for the same impairment.
(4) The treatment because of its magnitude (e.g., open heart surgery), unusual nature (e.g., organ transplant), or other reason is very risky for you; or
(5) The treatment involves amputation of an extremity, or a major part of an extremity.

20 C.F.R. § 404.1530. In Preston, the Fourth Circuit held that when the Commissioner denies benefits for noncompliance with prescribed treatment, "the burden of producing evidence concerning unjustified noncompliance lies with the Secretary." Preston , 769 F.2d at 990. The Fourth Circuit also held that when the Commissioner relies on noncompliance with prescribed treatment to deny benefits, the Commissioner must ...


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