Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


July 11, 2001


The opinion of the court was delivered by: David G. Larimer, Chief Judge, United States District Court




Plaintiff James Jordan applied for disability benefits in October 1994. (T. 147-150).*fn1 The basis for the application was that Jordan was unable to work because he suffered from back pain. (T. 154). The Social Security Administration denied the application initially (T. 152-154) and on reconsideration (T. 167-169). At a hearing on January 24, 1996 before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"), Jordan further alleged that he suffered from a heart murmur, asthma, and bronchitis. (T. 34). In his decision dated April 26, 1996, the ALJ found that Jordan was ineligible for benefits. (T. 13-23). The Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision on December 17, 1997 (T. 6-7), and Jordan filed a complaint in this Court on February 11, 1998. Jordan v. Apfel, 98-CV-6048. By order entered September 15, 1998, the parties stipulated to a reversal and remand to the Commissioner for further administrative proceedings. (T. 401-403). On January 7, 1999, the same ALJ held a second hearing (T. 404), and on February 17, 1999, he issued a second decision again denying benefits (T. 389-399). The determination became the final decision of the Commissioner on March 28, 2000 when the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (T. 381-382). The instant action to review the Commissioner's final decision followed.


Jordan was born on February 28, 1947. (T. 147). He suffered a back injury on October 16, 1991, while lifting a box at work. (T. 222, 261-262). He was subsequently treated at Highland Hospital, and referred to Dr. Jeffery Harp, who the parties agree is Jordan's treating physician. (T. 217-220). Jordan returned to work, while undergoing physical therapy, but he ceased working in November 1992. (T. 43-44). From April until October 1994, Jordan ran a small grocery store. (T. 177, 390). He has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 21, 1994. (T. 398).

Jordan has a high school education and has taken two years of business classes. (T. 76-78, 468). He has experience working as a service representative (T. 73), light industrial worker, office cleaner (T. 207), minister (T. 71-72, 446-447), and grocery store operator (T. 50-51, 448). Based upon the testimony of a vocational expert and the medical records, the ALJ found that Jordan possessed skills in communication, logical thinking, decision-making, writing, computers, and the use of tools sufficient to enable him to perform substantial gainful work notwithstanding the impairments he alleges. (T. 397; see also T. 466-468).


A. Standard of Review

The first issue to be determined is whether the Commissioner applied the correct legal standard. Tejada v. Apfel, 167 F.3d 770, 773 (2d. Cir. 1999); see also Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d 983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987) (holding that the court must first review the ALJ's decision for correct legal principles before applying the substantial evidence standard to uphold a finding of no disability); see also Townley v. Heckler, 748 F.2d 109, 112 (2d Cir. 1984) ("[f]ailure to apply the correct legal standards is grounds for reversal").

The only other issue to be determined is whether the Commissioner's conclusions are supported by substantial evidence. See Townley, 748 F.2d at 112 ("It is not the function of a reviewing court to determine de novo whether a claimant is disabled. The [Commissioner's] findings of fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are binding"). Substantial evidence is "`more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.' "Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)).

B. The Standard for Finding a Disability

A person is "disabled" under the Act and therefore entitled to benefits, when he is unable "to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). To qualify for benefits, the disability must be the result of an anatomical, physiological or psychological abnormality demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(3). Such a disability will be found to exist only if an individual's impairment is "of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.