United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
CLARA N. HICKMAN Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge.
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 6) and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (Doc. No. 10). 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. 12). The
M&R recommends Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment be granted, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment be denied, and the Commissioner's decision be
affirmed. Plaintiff filed objections to the M&R (Doc. No.
13), and Defendant filed a response brief (Doc. No. 14). This
matter is now ripe for review.
reasons set forth, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's
objections, ACCEPTS and ADOPTS the M&R, DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, GRANTS
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, and AFFIRMS the
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. 12 at 1-2).
Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Motion for Summary
Judgment, Plaintiff asserted the ALJ erred by: (1) failing to
identify an apparent conflict between the VE's testimony
and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
(“DOT”) (Doc. No. 7 at 5-10) and (2)
discounting Plaintiff's subjective statements of pain
without specifying which of Plaintiff's statements were
inconsistent (Doc. No. 7 at 10-17).
reviewing the motion, the M&R concluded the ALJ's RFC
determination at step four was proper because: (1) the
VE's testimony was consistent with the DOT (Doc.
No. 12 at 3-6), and (2) the ALJ engaged in a thorough,
well-reasoned credibility analysis (Doc. No. 12 at 6-9).
Standard of Review
Review of a Memorandum and Recommendation
district court may assign dispositive pretrial matters,
including motions for summary judgment, to a magistrate judge
for “proposed findings of fact and
recommendations.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) &
(B). The Federal Magistrate Act provides that a district
court “shall make a de novo determination of those
portions of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.”
Id. § 636(b)(1)(C); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3).
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). De
novo review is also not required “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.
Similarly, when no objection is filed, “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)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72, advisory committee note).
Review of a Social Security Appeal
does not lodge any specific objections to the standard of
review of a social security section contained in the M&R.
Therefore, the portion of the M&R entitled
“Standard of Review” is hereby adopted and
incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein. (Doc.
No. 12 at 2-3).
raises two objections to the to the M&R's findings
and conclusions, arguing the M&R erred in upholding the
ALJ's RFC determination by: (1) failing to find the
VE's testimony created an apparent conflict (Doc. No. 13
at 1-4) and (2) upholding the ALJ's credibility
determination regarding Plaintiff's testimony (Doc. No.
13 at 4-5). In response to Plaintiff's objections,
Defendant “relies on the points and authorities
previously stated in [Defendant's] memorandum in support
of [Defendant's] motion for summary judgment[.]”
(Doc. No. 14 at 1). Following d ...