United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
JAMES K. BRYANT, Plaintiffs,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Defendants.
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 11) and Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 13). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636 (b)(1)(B), these motions were referred to the
magistrate judge for issuance of a Memorandum and
Recommendation (“M&R”) for disposition (Doc.
No. 15). The M&R respectfully recommends Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment be granted, Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment be denied, and the
Commissioner's decision be reversed. After Defendant
filed objections to the M&R (Doc. No. 16), and Plaintiff
filed a response to Defendant's Objections (Doc. No. 17),
this matter is now ripe for review.
reasons set forth, the Court OVERRULES Defendant's
objections, ACCEPTS and ADOPTS the M&R, GRANTS
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, DENIES
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, and REVERSES the
Commissioner's decision and remands this matter for
proceedings consistent with the M&R and this Order.
does not lodge any specific objections to the procedural
history section contained in the M&R. Therefore, the
portion of the M&R entitled “Procedural
History” is hereby adopted and incorporated by
reference as if fully set forth herein. (Doc. No. 15, p.
2-3). Likewise, Defendant did not lodge any specific
objections to the applicable law cited by the M&R. Thus,
the applicable law is also adopted and incorporated by
reference as if fully set forth herein. (Doc. No. 15, p.
4-5). Because the procedural posture before this Court is
different than that of the magistrate judge, the Court
provides a short review of the applicable legal authority for
reviewing an M&R.
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and §
1383(c)(3), restricts and narrows this Court's review of
a final administrative 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). It is not the role of the
District Court to reweigh conflicting evidence or make any
credibility determinations regarding that evidence because
“it is not within the province of the reviewing court
to determine the weight of the evidence, nor is it the
court's function to substitute its judgment for that of
the Secretary if his decision is supported by substantial
evidence.” Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453,
1456 (4th Cir. 1990). The District Court does not review a
final decision of the Commissioner de novo.
Smith v. Schweiker, 795 F.2d 343, 345 (4th Cir.
noted above, this matter was first referred to the magistrate
judge for M&R. The Federal Magistrate Act states 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); see also Camby
v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 200 (4th Cir.1983). De
novo review is not required, however, “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.”
Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982);
see also Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins.
Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005). Furthermore, no
review is required of those portions of the M&R which are
not subject to an objection. Homesley v. Freightliner
Corp., 122 F.Supp.2d 659, 660 (W.D. N.C. 2000) (citing
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149 (1985)).
careful review of the record, the district court may accept,
reject, or modify the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge. Camby, 718 F.2d at 200. Based on
the foregoing, the Court has thoroughly reviewed the M&R
and conducted a de novo review of those parts of the
M&R subject to Defendant's objection.
raises two objections to the M&R's findings and
conclusions. The Court will review each of Defendant's
objections in turn. Following de novo review, the
Court finds all of Defendant's objections to be without
Plaintiff's Mild Mental Limitations
first objection contends the M&R incorrectly held the ALJ
failed to give explanation as to why Plaintiff's mild
mental limitations in daily activities, ability to maintain
social function, and concentration, persistence, or pace
(“CPP”) were not factored into Plaintiff's
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). Defendant
notes the ALJ's discussion of Plaintiff's mild mental
limitations in Step Two of the Five Step sequential
evaluation process. In Step Two, the ALJ stated there was no
evidence Plaintiff's mild mental limitations interfered
with his ability to understand, remember, and carry out
simple instructions. (Tr. 17-18). Additionally, the ALJ
noted, in Step Two, the lack of evidence for Plaintiff's
mild mental limitations interfering with his ability to use
judgment, or to respond appropriately to supervisors,
co-workers, and usual work situations, or to deal with
changes in a routine work setting. (Tr. 18). Defendant's
objections are noted, yet they are without merit.
making a disability determination, the ALJ must consider the
functional limitations resulting from the claimant's
medically determinable impairments. SSR96-8p, available at
1996 WL 374184, at *2. This consideration is to
“include a narrative discussion describing how the
evidence supports each conclusion, citing specific medical
facts . . . and nonmedical evidence.” Id.
Accordingly, the Fourth Circuit has held that “remand
may be appropriate . . . where an ALJ fails to assess a
claimant's capacity to perform relevant functions,
despite contradictory evidence ...