United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
Cogburn Jr. United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the court on review of a Memorandum and
Recommendation (“M&R”) issued in this matter
(#18). In the M&R, the magistrate judge advised the parties
of the right to file objections within 14 days, all in
accordance with 28, United States Code, Section 636(b)(1)(c).
Objections have been filed within the time allowed.
See Pl. Objections (#19).
Federal Magistrates Act of 1979, as amended,
provides that “a district court shall make a de
novo determination of those portions of the report or
specific proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1);
Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir.1983).
However, “when objections to strictly legal issues are
raised and no factual issues are challenged, de novo
review of the record may be dispensed with.”
Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir.1982).
Similarly, de novo review is not required by the
statute “when a party makes general or conclusory
objections that do not direct the court to a specific error
in the magistrate judge's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Id. Moreover, the statute
does not on its face require any review at all of issues that
are not the subject of an objection. Thomas v. Arn,
474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985); Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d
at 200. Nonetheless, a district judge is responsible for the
final determination and outcome of the case, and accordingly
the court has conducted a careful review of the magistrate
M&R in this case, Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell analyzed the
available record, including the disability decision from the
State of North Carolina and the decision of the
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (#18). Ultimately, Magistrate
Judge Howell recommended that the court dismiss the suit and
grant the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment
plaintiff has filed objections to the magistrate judge's
M&R. Pl. Objections (#19). Plaintiff's first objection is
it was error for the ALJ to not appropriately explain the
consideration given to the State of North Carolina's
Medicaid disability determination. The plaintiff's second
objection concerns the ALJ's function-by-function
assessment and resulting Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
finding. Plaintiff argues that the ALJ did not adequately
build “an accurate and logical bridge from the evidence
to his conclusion.” Pl. Objections (#19) at 4 (citing
Monroe v. Colvin, 826 F.3d 176, 189-90 (4th Cir.
regard to plaintiff's first objection, the plaintiff
argues that Social Security regulations and policies require
that an ALJ must explain the consideration they give to other
governmental disability determinations. In support of
plaintiff's argument, plaintiff cites to Rule 06-03p,
Because the ultimate responsibility for determining whether
an individual is disabled under Social Security law rests
with the Commissioner, we are not bound by disability
decisions by other governmental and nongovernmental agencies.
In addition, because other agencies may apply different rules
and standards than we do for determining whether an
individual is disabled, this may limit the relevance of a
determination of disability made by another agency. However,
the adjudicator should explain the consideration given to
these decisions in the notice of decision for hearing
cases and in the case record for initial and reconsideration
Titles II & Xvi: Considering Opinions & Other Evidence
from Sources Who Are Not "Acceptable Med. Sources"
in Disability Claims; Considering Decisions on Disability by
Other Governmental & Nongovernmental, SSR 06-03p (S.S.A.
Aug. 9, 2006) (emphasis added).
further support, plaintiff cites a series of cases from the
Eastern District of North Carolina, which tend to require
additional articulation of reasons for dismissing the
determinations of other governmental entities. See
Baughman v. Colvin, No. 5:13-CV-143-FL, 2014 WL 3345030
(E.D. N.C., July 8, 2014); Bridgeman v. Astrue, No.
4:07-cv-81-D, 2008 WL 1803619 (E.D. N.C., Apr. 21, 2008).
These courts have determined that SSR 06-03p demanded that an
ALJ provide more than a “cursory discussion” and
that simply stating that the other governmental determination
was non-binding was “insufficient” and failed to
“provide sufficient articulation for [their] reasons
for [dismissing the Medicaid decision] so to allow for a
meaningful review by the courts.” Baughman,
2014 WL 3345030 at *8.
the decisions of this court's colleagues in the Eastern
District can be persuasive, the court's colleagues in
this district have found the requirements of SSR 06-03p met
where the ALJ notes that other governmental determinations
have been considered, but assigned little weight. See,
e.g. Gabriel v. Colvin, No. 1:14-cv-270, 2015 WL
45915591 (W.D. N.C. July 29, 2015); Fraley v.
Colvin, No. 3:14-cv-192, 2015 WL 50007826 (W.D. N.C.
Aug. 20, 2015); Oglesby v. Colvin, No. 5:15-cv-23,
2016 WL 4445773 (W.D. N.C. Jun. 9, 2016); Lindsay v.
Colvin, No. 1:15-cv-13, 2016 WL 3519891 (W.D. N.C. Mar.
25, 2016). Review of the ALJ's decision here reveals the
state Medicaid determination was taken into account, but was
assigned little weight in the ALJ's determination. ALJ
Decision (#8-3) at 30. The ALJ went one step further,
explaining in a paragraph that the state process for Medicaid
eligibility was separate and distinct from the SSA