United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
MALACHY E. MANNION UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the court is the report of Magistrate Judge Martin C.
Carlson , which recommends that the decision
of the Commissioner be affirmed. (Doc. 9). The plaintiff has
filed objections to the report, (Doc. 10), and the defendant
has filed a response to the plaintiff's objections, (Doc.
objections are timely filed to the report and recommendation
of a magistrate judge, the district court must review de novo
those portions of the report to which objections are made. 28
U.S.C. §636(b)(1); Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d
193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011). Although the standard is de novo,
the extent of review is committed to the sound discretion of
the district judge, and the court may rely on the
recommendations of the magistrate judge to the extent it
deems proper. Rieder v. Apfel, 115 F.Supp.2d 496,
499 (M.D.Pa. 2000) (citing United States v. Raddatz,
447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980)).
those sections of the report and recommendation to which no
objection is made, the court should, as a matter of good
practice, "satisfy itself that there is no clear error
on the face of the record in order to accept the
recommendation." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), advisory committee
notes; see also Univac Dental Co. v. Dentsply Intern.,
Inc., 702 F.Supp.2d 465, 469 (M.D.Pa. 2010) (citing
Henderson v. Carlson, 812 F.2d 874, 878 (3d Cir.
1987) (explaining judges should give some review to every
report and recommendation)). Nevertheless, whether timely
objections are made or not, the district court may accept,
not accept, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate judge. 28 U.S.C.
§636(b)(1); Local Rule 72.31.
appeal, the plaintiff argues that the administrative law
judge (“ALJ”) erred in concluding that she did
not meet the statutory blindness standards, asserting that
the various Snellen test results which revealed a visual
acuity of less than 20/100 but greater than 20/200 in the
plaintiff's better eye should be deemed to be 20/200
vision, and thus satisfy the statutory definition of
blindness in the Act. In the alternative, the plaintiff
argues that an application of the regulation, which denies
disability consideration to those whose eye testing was done
through some more sophisticated Snellen testing protocol that
distinguishes between 20/100 and 20/200 vision, denies
claimants equal protection since prior traditional Snellen
testing, which made no distinctions, would deem persons who
cannot read any letters at the 20/100 line of a Snellen chart
to have 20/200 vision.
carefully considering the plaintiff's claims, Judge
Carlson found that substantial evidence supported the
decision of the ALJ in this case that the plaintiff did not
meet the statutory definition of blindness and that the
ALJ's decision did not violate constitutional equal
protection principles. Accordingly, Judge Carlson recommends
that the decision of the Commissioner be affirmed and the
plaintiff's appeal denied.
court has reviewed the entire report of Judge Carlson, as
well as the plaintiff's objections thereto. The plaintiff
raises nothing in her objections that was not already argued
in the brief in support of her appeal and addressed by Judge
Carlson. The court further agrees with the sound reasoning
which led Judge Carlson to his recommendation. As such, the
court adopts the reasoning of Judge Carlson as the opinion of
THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
The report and recommendation of Judge Carlson, (Doc.
9), is ADOPTED IN ITS ENTIRETY.
The decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED
and the plaintiff's appeal DENIED.
The Clerk of Court is directed to CLOSE THIS
On January 23, 2017, Nancy A. Berryhill
became the Acting Commissioner of Social Security. On March
6, 2018, the Government Accountability Office stated that, as
of November 17, 2017, Ms. Berryhill's status violated the
Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which limits the time a
position can be filled by an acting official and
“[t]herefore Ms. Berryhill was not authorized to
continue serving using the title of Acting
Commissioner...” Violation of the Time Limit Imposed by
the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1988 Commissioner, Social
Security Administration. Government Accountability Office.
March 6, 2018. However, Ms. Berryhill continues to
functionally lead the Social Security Administration from her
position of record as Deputy Commissioner of Operations.