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Terry L. Snyder, Ii. v. Michael Astrue

June 14, 2011

TERRY L. SNYDER, II. PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Terry L. Snyder ("Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("the Act"), seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), denying Plaintiff's application for benefits, did not give proper weight to Plaintiff's treating physician's opinions as to his disability.

The Commissioner moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 (c) ("Rule 12 (c)"), on the grounds that the decision of the ALJ was supported by substantial evidence in the record and that Plaintiff was not disabled during the relevant period under review. Plaintiff opposes the Commissioner's motion, and, appearing pro se, cross-moves on a motion for reversal of the ALJ's decision on the ground's that proper weight was not given to Plaintiff's treating physician's opinions regarding his disability. The court finds that the decision of the Commissioner, that the Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act, is supported by substantial evidence in the record and is in accordance with applicable legal standards. Therefore, for the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted, and the Plaintiff's motion is denied.

BACKGROUND

The Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act on July 5, 2007, claiming a disability since March 13, 2005. (Transcript of Administrative Proceedings at 12, 99-101, 104-07) (hereinafter "Tr."). The application was initially denied on December 27, 2007. (Tr. at 64-5). Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing. (Tr. at 68-74).

Plaintiff then appeared, with counsel, and testified at the hearing on April 7, 2009 in Rochester, NY before ALJ John P. Costello. (Tr. at 23-4). Peter A. Manzi, a vocational expert, also testified at the hearing. (Tr. at 23, 52-5). In a decision dated May 19, 2009, the ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act (Tr. at 9-22). The Appeals Council denied further review, and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on March 9, 2010. (Tr. at 1-3). Plaintiff then filed this action.

DISCUSSION

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. When considering such claims, this section directs the Court to accept the findings of fact made by the Commissioner, provided that these findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. Substantial evidence is "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) limits the Court's scope of review to determining whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the Commissioner employed the proper legal standards. See Monger v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1038 (2d Cir. 1982) (finding that a reviewing Court does not try a benefits case de novo). 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 moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c), asserting that his decision was reasonable and was supported by substantial evidence in the record. Rule 12(c) permits judgment on the pleadings 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 has not set forth a plausible claim for relief, judgment on the pleadings may be appropriate. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). In this case, this Court finds that there is sufficient evidence in the record for the Commissioner to find that the Plaintiff was not disabled. Therefore, the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted, and the Plaintiff's motion is denied.

II. The Commissioner's decision to deny the Plaintiff Disability Insurance Benefits is supported by substantial evidence.

The ALJ found that the Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. In his decision, the ALJ adhered to the following five step sequential analysis required for evaluating Social Security Disability benefits claims:

(1) whether the claimant is performing substantial gainful work activity;

(2)if not, whether the claimant has a severe impairment that significantly limits his ability to perform basic work activity;

(3)whether the claimant's impairment(s) meets or medically equals a listed impairment contained in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4; if so, claimant is considered disabled;

(4)if not, the ALJ determines whether the impairment prevents the claimant from performing past relevant work; if the claimant has the residual functional capacity ...


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