United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
C.FOX Senior United States District Judge.
the court are the following:
(1) the Memorandum and Recommendation ("M&R")
[DE-22] of United States Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones,
(2) the parties' cross Motions for Judgment on the
Pleadings [DE-16, -18].
issues have been fully briefed, and the matter is now ripe
for ruling. For the reasons addressed below, this court
ADOPTS the findings and recommendations of the Magistrate
Judge, Plaintiffs Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
[DE-16] is DENIED, Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings [DE-18] is ALLOWED, and the Commissioner's
final decision is AFFIRMED.
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 & Acc.
Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
January 26, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued a M&R, in
which he recommended that Plaintiffs Motion for Judgment on
the Pleadings [DE-16] be denied, Defendant's Motion for -
Judgment on the Pleadings [DE-18] be allowed, and the
Commissioner's final decision be affirmed. 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-23], to
which Defendant filed a Response [DE-24].
Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge erred by finding
that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") to afford the opinion of treating physician
Dr. Rickabaugh only some weight was not error.
first objection, Plaintiff argues that the Magistrate Judge
erred by finding that the ALJ's decision to afford the
opinion of Dr. Rickabaugh only some weight was not error.
Objections [DE-23] at 1-3. In particular, Plaintiff contends
that the ALJ's opinion and the Magistrate Judge's
M&R reflect that they misunderstood Dr. Rickabaugh's
usage of the term "activities of daily living."
Id. at 1.
to the regulations, an ALJ is required to evaluate every
medical opinion, regardless of its source. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c). When a treating physician's opinion on the
nature and severity of a claimant's impairments is
"well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with
the other substantial evidence, " it must be given
"controlling weight." 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)(2); Mastro v. Apfel,270 F.3d 171, 178
(4th Cir. 2001). A treating physician's opinion should be
given "significantly less weight" when it is not
supported by clinical evidence or is inconsistent with other
substantial evidence. Craig v. Chater, 16 F.3d 585,
590 (4th Cir. 1996). When an ALJ discounts the opinion of a