United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
JOSEPH P. SIMMONS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
S. Cayer United States Magistrate Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's
“Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings” (document
#10) and Defendant's “Motion for Summary
Judgment” (document #12), as well as the parties'
briefs and exhibits.
parties have consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and these Motions are now
ripe for disposition.
considered the written arguments, administrative record, and
applicable authority, the Court finds that Defendant's
decision to deny Plaintiff Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) benefits is supported by substantial
evidence. Accordingly, the Court will deny
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings;
grant Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment;
and affirm the Commissioner's decision.
procedural history is not in dispute. The Court adopts the
procedural history as stated in the parties' briefs.
filed the present action on December 27, 2016. He assigns
error to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)'s evaluation
of the opinion of Audra Malone, Plaintiff's treating
nurse practitioner, her formulation of Plaintiff's
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”), and her
ultimate determination that Plaintiff could perform his past
relevant work. See Plaintiff's
“Memorandum ...” at 3, 7-12 (document #11).
parties' cross-Motions are ripe for disposition.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and §
1383(c)(3), limits this Court's review of a final
decision of the Commissioner to: (1) whether substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's decision,
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390, 401
(1971); and (2) whether the Commissioner applied the correct
legal standards. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Hunter v. Sullivan,
993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). The
District Court does not review a final decision of the
Commissioner de novo. Smith v. Schweiker,
795 F.2d 343, 345 (4th Cir. 1986); King v. Califano,
599 F.2d 597, 599 (4th Cir. 1979); Blalock v.
Richardson, 483 F.2d 773, 775 (4th Cir. 1972).
Social Security Act provides, “[t]he findings of the
[Commissioner] as to any fact, if supported by substantial
evidence, shall be conclusive.” 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). In Smith v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1176, 1179
(4th Cir. 1986), quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971), the Fourth Circuit defined
“substantial evidence” thus:
Substantial evidence has been defined as being “more
than a scintilla and do[ing] more than creat[ing] a suspicion
of the existence of a fact to be established. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.”
See also Seacrist v. Weinberger, 538 F.2d 1054,
1056-57 (4th Cir. 1976) (“We note that it is the
responsibility of the [Commissioner] and not the courts to
reconcile inconsistencies in the medical evidence”).
Fourth Circuit has long emphasized that it is not for a
reviewing court to weigh the evidence again, nor to
substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner,
assuming the Commissioner's final decision is supported
by substantial evidence. Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d
at 1456 (4th Cir. 1990); see also Smith v.
Schweiker, 795 F.2d at 345; and Blalock v.
Richardson, 483 F.2d at 775. Indeed, this is true even
if the reviewing court disagrees with the outcome - so long
as there is ...