The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge
Plaintiff Nancy E. Sotack ("Plaintiff") brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c), seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits.*fn1 Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Alfred J. Costanzo, denying her application for benefits was against the weight of substantial evidence contained in the record and contrary to applicable legal standards.
The Commissioner moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c), on the grounds that ALJ Kelly's decision was supported by substantial evidence contained in the record and was based on the correct application of appropriate legal standards. Plaintiff cross-moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c), seeking reversal of the Commissioner's ruling or, in the alternative, remand of the matter for a new hearing. For the reasons set forth below, I hereby deny the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings, grant Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, and remand this claim to the Commissioner for further proceedings consistent with this decision.
On April 18, 2003, Plaintiff, who was then 30 years old, filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II, §§ 216(i) and 223 of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). Plaintiff claimed a disability since August 31, 2002, due to deep vein thrombosis ("DVT"), sleep apnea, a weak heart muscle and leg pain. (Transcript of the Administrative Proceedings at pages 30, 43) (hereinafter "Tr."). Plaintiff's application was denied by the Social Security Administration ("the Administration") initially on July 18, 2003. (Tr. at 24). Plaintiff filed a timely request for an administrative hearing on August 20, 2003. (Tr. at 28).
Thereafter, Plaintiff appeared with counsel, at an administrative oral hearing before ALJ Alfred J. Costanzo on November 15, 2004. (Tr. at 272). In a decision dated January 24, 2005, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits. (Tr. at 14). The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Social Security Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on May 3, 2007 after considering additional information. (Tr. at 7). On May 21, 2007, Plaintiff filed this action.
I. Jurisdiction and Scope of Review
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) grants jurisdiction to district courts to hear claims based on the denial of Social Security benefits. Additionally, the section directs that when considering such a claim, the Court must accept the findings of fact made by the Commissioner, provided that such findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. Substantial evidence is defined as, "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 217 (1938). Section 405(g) thus limits the Court's scope of review to determining whether or not the Commissioner's findings were supported by substantial evidence. See, Monqeur v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1038 (2d Cir. 1983) (finding that a reviewing Court does not try a benefits case de novo). The Court is also authorized to review the legal standards employed by the Commissioner in evaluating Plaintiff's claim.
The Court must "scrutinize the record in its entirety to determine the reasonableness of the decision reached." Lynn v. Schweiker, 565 F. Supp. 265, 267 (S.D. Tex. 1983) (citation omitted). The Commissioner asserts that his decision was reasonable and is supported by the evidence in the record, and moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c). Judgment on the pleadings may be granted under Rule 12(c) where the material facts are undisputed and where judgment on the merits is possible merely by considering the contents of the pleadings. Sellers v. M.C. Floor Crafters, Inc., 842 F.2d 639 (2d Cir. 1988). If, after a review of the pleadings, the Court is convinced that Plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which would entitle him to relief, judgment on the pleadings may be appropriate. See Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 45-46 (1957).
II. The Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process
The Act defines disability as "physical or mental impairment or impairments [. . .] of such severity that [claimant] is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy."
42 U.S.C. §§ 223(d)(2). In this case, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not under a disability within the meaning of the Act during the period of April 18, ...