The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge
FOR ONLINE PUBLICATION ONLY
Victor Janicki challenges the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security that he was not disabled prior to September 30, 1997, the date his insured status expired. Based on the administrative record, the Commissioner now moves for judgment on the pleadings affirming his decision. Oral argument was heard on November 6, 2009. For the reasons stated below, I grant defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings.
Janicki was born in 1942. He worked as a police officer and later as a firefighter.
In 1992, after more than twenty years' service, Janicki took ordinary retirement from the New York City Fire Department. Aside from occasionally helping a friend's painting business, Janicki has not had a regular job since he retired.
Janicki's medical records indicate that he was treated sporadically for lower back and neck pain during the relevant period (1992-1997). In addition, Janicki fell off his bicycle in 1995 and suffered a fracture in his left hand. Tr. 70. In June 1997, Janicki was involved in a car accident and was treated thereafter for "neck muscle spasm." Tr. 76. After nine months of physical therapy, however, Janicki require no further care for another three years. Tr. 115. In 2005, Janicki underwent vascular surgeries on his legs; these surgeries did not relate to any condition that existed before 1997. Id.
Janicki applied for disability insurance benefits on May 27, 2004. He claimed that he became disabled on August 28, 1992, and cited arthritis and leg spasms as conditions that limited his ability to work. Tr. 34. After his claim was initially denied, Janicki was granted a hearing. At the hearing, which was held on November 27, 2007, Janicki testified that he suffered from arthritis in his neck, shoulder and hips. Tr. 112. He stated that the arthritis began to interfere with his ability to work in about 1990, and "it just got progressively worse." Tr. 113. He "had to retire" from the Fire Department as a result of his arthritis, because he "couldn't take it out in the cold and wet no longer." Id.
In a decision dated December 6, 2007, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") PeterF. Crispino found that Janicki was not disabled prior to September 30, 1997. On February 26, 2009, the Appeals Council denied review, thereby making the ALJ's decision the final administrative decision in this case.
In order to be found eligible for disability benefits, Janicki needed to prove before the Commissioner that, "by reason of [a] medically determined physical or mental impairment ... which has lasted ... for a continuous period of not less than 12 months," 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), he "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. § 423(d)(2)(A).*fn2
On review, the question presented is whether the Commissioner's decision that Janicki is not entitled to disability benefits is supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Halloran v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d 28, 31 (2d Cir. 2004) (per curiam). "Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind ...