United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division
MONICA L. HORNAL, Plaintiff/Claimant,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
C. FOX Senior United States District Judge
the court are the following:
(1) the Memorandum and Recommendation ("M&R")
[DE-23] of United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones,
(2) the parties' cross Motions for Judgment on the
Pleadings [DE-17, -19].
issues have been fully briefed, and the matter is now ripe
for ruling. For the reasons addressed below, this court
ADOPTS in part the findings and recommendations of the
Magistrate Judge, Plaintiffs Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings [DE-17] is ALLOWED, and Defendant's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings [DE-19] is DENIED. This case will
be REMANDED to the Commissioner for further proceedings
consistent with this order.
The Magistrate Judge's M&R
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with the
court. See Mathews v. Weber, 423, U.S. 261, 270-71
(1976). This court is charged with making a de novo
determination of those portions of the recommendation to
which specific objections are made, and the court may accept,
reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the Magistrate
Judge's recommendation, or recommit the matter to the
Magistrate Judge with instructions. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). In the absence of a timely-filed objection,
a district court need not conduct a de novo review,
but instead must "only satisfy itself that there is no
clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation." Diamond v. Colonial Life & Ace.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
January 13, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a M&R, in
which he recommended that Plaintiffs Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings [DE-17] be denied, Defendant's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings [DE-19] be allowed, and the
Commissioner's final decision be upheld. The Magistrate
Judge advised the parties of the procedures and requirements
for filing objections to the M&R and the consequences if
they failed to do so. Plaintiff filed Objections' [DE-24]
to the M&R, to which Defendant filed a Response [DE-27].
Plaintiffs Objections to the M&R
Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding
that the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") was not
required to assess whether her sarcoidosis met or equaled
first objection, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate
Judge's finding that the ALJ was not required to discuss
her pulmonary test results is inconsistent with the Fourth
Circuit Court of Appeals' holdings in Cook v.
Heckler, 783 F.2d 1168 (4th Cir. 1986), and Radford
v. Colvin, 734 F.3d 288 (4th Cir. 2013). Objections
[DE-24] at 1. According to Plaintiff, without such an
explanation, it is simply impossible to determine if the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence.
Id. at 1-2.
one in the sequential evaluation, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since March 15, 2013, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 16). Then,
at step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiffs sarcoidosis,
depression/bipolar disorder, and anxiety were
"severe" impairments. (Tr. 16). At step three, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a
listed impairment. (Tr. 16-17). In coming to this conclusion,
the ALJ addressed the application of Listings 3.02A and
3.02B, but he did not address Listing 3.02C, except to say,
"[f]urther the record shows that the claimant does not
have chronic impairment of gas exchange due to ...