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Juliano v. Astrue


April 12, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shira A. Scheindlin, U.S.D.J.



Albert Juliano, represented by counsel, brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (the "Act"),*fn1 seeking judicial review of a final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner") denying his claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB").

Juliano argues that the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") erred and misapplied the applicable regulations by: 1) failing to consider the combined effects of his impairments, including pain; 2) failing to follow the treating physician rule; 3) inaccurately evaluating his credibility; 4) erroneously evaluating the testimony of the vocational witness and posing hypothetical questions that failed to reflect all of his limitations; and 5) failing to do a function-by-function analysis of his impairments and inaccurately evaluating his residual functional capacity ("RFC"). Juliano requests a finding that he is entitled to DIB, or in the alternative, a remand of his case for further administrative proceedings.*fn2 He also requests an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act.*fn3

The Commissioner has cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the ALJ's finding that Juliano was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to DIB during the period under review is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed. For the following reasons, the Commissioner's motion is granted, the decision denying benefits is affirmed, and the case is dismissed.


A. Procedural History

The evidence, which is contained in the administrative record, has been summarized by the ALJ in his decision denying DIB.*fn4 I will recount only those facts pertinent to this motion. On November 28, 2006, Juliano filed an application for DIB, alleging disability beginning on November 17, 2003.*fn5

Juliano's application was initially denied on April 11, 2007.*fn6 Juliano requested a hearing before an ALJ*fn7 which took place on September 11, 2008, where Juliano was represented by an attorney.*fn8 On April 1, 2009, the ALJ found that Juliano was not disabled.*fn9 Juliano requested review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council.*fn10 That request was denied on February 3, 2011.*fn11

B. The Administrative Record

The administrative record consists of non-medical evidence, medical evidence, and vocational expert testimony.

1. Non-Medical Evidence

Juliano, who is forty-one years old, was thirty-three at the alleged onset of his disability on November 17, 2003.*fn12 He received a degree in police science in 1993.*fn13 Beginning in 1995, and through the alleged onset date, Juliano was a police officer, most recently in the Port Chester Police Department.*fn14 Prior to becoming a police officer, Juliano held several jobs in the construction industry and as a security guard.*fn15

In 1999, Juliano was injured while arresting a suspect.*fn16 He returned to work after surgery and was reinjured in 2003 in the course of active police duty.*fn17 His most recent injuries included a ruptured disc in his neck, a spinal infection, a shoulder injury that required additional surgery in 2004, a bone growth in his neck, and carpal tunnel syndrome.*fn18 At his hearing, Juliano claimed that his injuries prevent him from sitting or standing for more than a few hours at a time*fn19 and his pain medication affects his concentration, rendering him unable to focus for long periods of time.*fn20 Further, Juliano complained of difficulty writing due to numbness in his right hand and the inability to lift heavy objects.*fn21 Juliano testified that he lives in a house with his wife and nine-month old child.*fn22 Juliano did not report any problems with personal care, such as showering and dressing himself.*fn23

In describing his daily activities, Juliano stated that he prepared small meals for himself, drove locally, cared for his nine-month-old daughter, helped with the laundry, watched television, and took quarter-mile walks to the end of his driveway.*fn24 Juliano noted that the longest car trip he had taken in the past year was driving fifty minutes each way to visit family in Connecticut.*fn25 Juliano testified that he was capable of fastening buttons and zippers, tying his shoelaces, picking up coins from a table, write "a little bit"*fn26 , and unscrew caps, although if it was on tight, would use his left hand.*fn27 He noted that he could only use a computer in limited durations of about ten minutes before he felt pain. Further, Juliano stated that many things exacerbated his pain, including sleeping the wrong way or sneezing too hard, and that these incidents would lead to pain that lasted two or three days at a time.*fn28 Moreover, Juliano testified that he had difficulty sleeping and sitting and standing for long stretches.*fn29

2. Medical Evidence

a. Treating Physicians

Medical records indicate that Juliano has a cervical sprain, a degenerative spondylosis cervical spine, post-traumatic impingement syndrome in his right shoulder, a rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder, and subacromial decompression.*fn30 These impairments have led several doctors to advise Juliano not to return to police work.*fn31 Juliano was first examined by Dr. Richard Freeman, an orthopedic examiner/consultant, on February 4, 2004.*fn32 Dr. Freeman noted that Juliano had reported some improvement following physical therapy and acupuncture. In light of Juliano's past surgery and current complaints, Dr. Freeman described Juliano's prognosis as guarded.*fn33 On August 9, 2004, Juliano returned to Dr. Freeman for a follow-up examination. Dr. Freeman noted that there had been no significant changes since his last examination and that Juliano continued to perform "light work-outs" at a gym four times a week, using a treadmill, exercise ball, and various machines.*fn34 The examination showed no sensory deficits, swelling, deformity or atrophy of the right shoulder, and Juliano's reflexes in his upper extremities remained equal and active.*fn35 Dr. Freeman recommended a continued course of treatment of physical therapy and acupuncture.*fn36

Dr. Gregory Garner, a treating Chiropractor, treated Juliano on August 11, 2004. He found that Juliano was extremely limited in the use of his upper extremities and that he experienced both exacerbations of pain as well as chronic pain.*fn37 Dr. Garner opined that Juliano would be unable to return to work as a police officer.*fn38

On March 29, 2006, Dr. Maryanne Wysell, Juliano's treating orthopedist, examined him for complaints of neck pain and stiffness, as well as headaches. Dr. Wysell noted that Juliano also complained of occasional knee, ankle and lower back stiffness, and that he took over-the-counter medications such as Advil and Tylenol PM to alleviate the pain.*fn39 Dr. Wysell stated that Juliano's muscle strength was full (5/5) throughout, but that he was "a little weaker" in his right arm.*fn40 Juliano was diagnosed with a cervical spasm and was prescribed Mobic.*fn41 Zoloft, an antidepressant, was suggested for his headaches and muscle spasms.*fn42 Juliano returned to Dr. Wysell on April 26, 2007.*fn43 Dr. Wysell stated that Juliano was "doing much better," that the Mobic helped Juliano's fibromyalgia-like symptoms, and that he was feeling "quite well."*fn44

Dr. Wysell next examined Juliano on December 23, 2008.*fn45 Her report indicated that Juliano "feels quite well," and that he was "doing very well on Neurontin up to 1200 mg a day, and Mobic 15 mg a day."*fn46 Additionally, Dr. Wysell noted that Juliano could always take a higher dose of Neurontin if his neck was really bothering him, and that she would suggest possibly adding Cymbalta. For now, however, Juliano "seems pretty well controlled."*fn47

Juliano continues to experience pain from these injuries and takes medication to manage this pain.*fn48 During a July 2007 examination with Dr. Samuel Kozner, Juliano's treating neurologist, Dr. Kozner noted that all of Juliano's neurological and mental status examinations were normal and that, with the help of the medication Neurontin, Juliano was tolerating the pain.*fn49 Two separate independent orthopedic examinations by revealed medical findings consistent with the functional capacity to meet the primary strength demands of sedentary work.*fn50

b. Consulting Physicians

On March 28, 2005, Juliano visited Dr. Robert Roffman for an orthopedic consultation in connection with his Workers' Compensation claim.*fn51

Dr. Roffman opined that Juliano was capable of working as a police officer provided that he was not: required to use his right upper extremity at or above the shoulder level; lift, push, or pull more than ten to fifteen pounds; and put in a position where he may have to use a firearm or physically restrain a suspect.*fn52 Dr. Roffman also noted that Juliano's reflexes were symmetric and that there was no right-hand motor or sensory deficit.*fn53 Dr. Roffman diagnosed Juliano with cervical sprain/strain, pre-existing degenerative spondylosis of the cervical spine, remote C6-C7 fusion, post-traumatic impingement syndrome of the right shoulder, right rotator cuff tear, status post-rotator cuff repair, and subacromial decompression.*fn54

Dr. Roffman recommended that Juliano continue his home exercise program.*fn55

On March 27, 2007, Dr. Thomas Li, a consulting physician, examined Juliano. Juliano complained of right shoulder and neck pain with lifting, pulling and pushing, and he showed slightly reduced motor strength on his right side.*fn56 Dr. Li observed no muscle atrophy and no sensory or reflex abnormality.*fn57 Dr. Li noted that Juliano's stance was normal, that he did not use an assistive device, and required no assistance getting on and off the exam table.*fn58 Dr. Li stated that Juliano's prognosis was stable.*fn59 He opined that Juliano had moderate limitations in prolonged and repetitive lifting and carrying, especially when reaching with his right upper extremity, and some limitation with repetitive neck motion.*fn60

c. New Evidence Submitted to the Appeals Board

The ALJ made his determination denying Juliano disability benefits on April 1, 2009.*fn61 Following this decision, Juliano submitted new evidence to the Appeals Council. Upon review, the Appeals Council determined that the new evidence did not warrant remand or provide a basis for changing the ALJ's decision.

The new submissions included an evaluation provided by Juliano's chiropractor, Dr. Garner, dated May 20, 2009.*fn62 However, the form provided by Dr. Garner stated that he last treated Juliano in March 2006. He diagnosed Juliano with cervical disc injury, cervical radicular syndrome, and cervicalgia.*fn63 When asked to identify positive objective signs of Juliano's pain, he checked boxes for sensory loss, tenderness, muscle atrophy, reflex changes, muscle weakness, muscle spasm and significant loss of motion.*fn64 Dr. Garner opined that Juliano could sit for a total of two hours in an eight-hour work day, stand and walk for a total of one hour each, and could lift up to twenty five pounds occasionally.*fn65

Next, Juliano submitted a report from Dr. Wysell, who examined him on July 16, 2009, more than three months after the ALJ's decision.Dr. Wysell's report noted that Juliano's most recent MRI, performed a week earlier, did "not show anything really significant . . . ."*fn66 Dr. Wysell reported that although the Neurontin helped, Juliano could not tolerate higher doses.*fn67 Instead, she prescribed Cymbalta. On a follow-up visit, Dr. Wysell stated that Juliano presented with cervical spasm, mild fibromyalgia and carpal tunnel.*fn68 Dr. Wysell gave Juliano wrist splints to use at night.*fn69 On February 22, 2010, Dr. Wysell completed a work capacity evaluation form for Juliano. It was noted that Juliano's medication Mobic had caused gastrointestinal upset and fatigue, and that Neurontin had caused "rage" problems when the dosage was increased.*fn70 Dr. Wysell opined that Juliano could not sit, stand or walk for a single hour in an eight-hour work day, and could never lift any weight whatsoever.*fn71

3. Vocational Expert Testimony

Donald Slive, a vocational expert ("VE"), testified at Juliano's September 11, 2008, hearing.*fn72 The VE testified that Juliano's past work involved very heavy physical demands and skills such as the ability to conduct investigations, write reports, interact with the public, enforce laws and regulations, and detect and prevent crime.*fn73 The VE stated that a hypothetical individual of the same age, education, and work history, limited to sedentary work with the ability to lift ten pounds occasionally and with no ability to reach behind with his right arm, could not perform his previous work as a police officer. However, this hypothetical person could perform several jobs existing in the national economy, including that of a skip tracer, investigator, and protective signal operator.*fn74 The VE indicated that the jobs identified existed in significant numbers in the local and national economies.*fn75

C. The ALJ's Decision and Analysis

At step one of his analysis, the ALJ determined that Juliano had met the Act's insured status requirements through December 31, 2009, and that he had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 7, 2003.*fn76 Next, at the second step, the ALJ found that Juliano had the following severe impairments, which caused more than minimal limitations to his ability to perform work-related activities: "vertebrogenic (e.g. cervical) sprain/strain; degenerative spondylosis cervical spine; post traumatic impingement syndrome right shoulder; rotator cuff tear, right shoulder; status post rotator cuff repair and subacromial decompression."*fn77 At step three, the ALJ determined that Juliano did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments. The ALJ concluded that the listed impairment requirements had not been met because there was "no documentation of any motor, sensory or reflex deficits as requied under medical listing 1.04A. There has also been no evidence to ambulate or to do fine/gross movements effectively within the context of medical listing 1.02."*fn78

At step four, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the RFC to perform a range of sedentary work,*fn79 with the following limitations: his ability to engage [substantial gainful work activity] has been compromised by impairment-caused manipulative limitations referable to inability to use his dominant, right upper extremity above shoulder level (e.g., to reach upwards or behind, or handle) or lift, push or pull more than 10 pounds.

While acknowledging that Juliano could not perform his past relevant work, the ALJ determined that "although the claimant's additional limitations do not allow the claimant to perform the 'full range' . . . of sedentary work, considering his age, education and transferable work skills, a finding of 'not disabled' is appropriate."*fn80

In making his determination, the ALJ noted that Juliano's testimony "shows that he is quite active with regard to his activities of daily living and is not as functionally compromised as alleged."*fn81 He noted the wide range of Juliano's activities, finding that "such a level of activity is not consistent with contentions of total disability."*fn82 He noted that the opinions of both treating and consulting physicians were consistent with a finding that Juliano could engage in sedentary work.*fn83 The ALJ did not accord much weight to Juliano's testimony about the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms, finding it "not credible to the extent it was inconsistent with the above residual functional capacity assessment."*fn84 Because the ALJ determined that Juliano could not perform his past relevant work, he continued on to step five. Based on his review of the record, the ALJ found that Juliano retained the functional capacity to perform sedentary work considering his age, education, and transferable work skills.*fn85 The ALJ cited to the examples the VE gave for jobs that someone with Juliano's limitations could perform including investigator, skip tracer and protective-signal operator. Based on his analysis of the record, the ALJ found that Juliano was "not disabled" as defined by the Act.*fn86


A. Substantial Evidence Standard

In reviewing an ALJ's decision in a disability benefits case, a district court does not conduct a de novo review of the ALJ's decision.*fn87 The ALJ must set forth the crucial factors supporting his decision with sufficient specificity,*fn88 but a district court must not disturb the ALJ's decision if "correct legal standards were applied" and "substantial evidence supports the decision."*fn89 "Substantial evidence is 'more than a scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'"*fn90

"'To determine whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence, the reviewing court is required to examine the entire record, including contradictory evidence and evidence from which conflicting inferences can be drawn.'"*fn91 Even if there is substantial evidence for the claimant's position, the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed when substantial evidence exists to support it.*fn92 Moreover, the Commissioner's findings of fact, as well as the inferences and conclusions drawn from those findings, are conclusive even in cases where a reviewing court's independent analysis of the evidence might differ from the Commissioner's analysis.*fn93

B. Five-Step Process

Pursuant to the Act, the Social Security Administration ("SSA") has established a five-step sequential process to determine whether a claimant is disabled.*fn94 At step one, the ALJ must decide whether the claimant is engaging in substantial gainful work activity ("SGA").*fn95 Generally, if the claimant has earnings from employment above a certain level, he is presumed to be able to engage in SGA and is deemed not disabled.*fn96 If the claimant is not engaging in SGA, the analysis continues.

At step two, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has a medically determinable impairment(s), or a combination thereof, that is "severe."*fn97

According to the Regulations, an impairment or combination of impairments is "severe" if it significantly limits the claimant's ability to perform basic work-related activities.*fn98 An impairment is "not severe" when the evidence establishes only a slight abnormality or a combination of slight abnormalities that would have no more than a minimal effect on the claimant's ability to work.*fn99 If the claimant has a severe impairment or combination thereof, the analysis must proceed.

At step three, the ALJ determines whether the claimant's impairment or combination thereof meets or medically equals the criteria of a listed impairment.*fn100 If the impairment is contained in the Listings, the claimant is considered disabled.*fn101 If not, the analysis continues.

At step four, the ALJ must first determine the claimant's RFC,*fn102 which is his ability to complete work-related activities on a sustained basis despite the limitations resulting from his impairments. In making this finding, the ALJ must consider all of the claimant's impairments, including any non-severe impairments.*fn103 Then, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has the RFC to perform any relevant work that the claimant has done in the past.*fn104 If the claimant is unable to do any past relevant work, the analysis proceeds.

At the last step of the evaluation, step five, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant's RFC, age, education and work experience allow him to perform any other work in the national economy.*fn105 If so, the claimant is not disabled. But if he is unable to do other work, the claimant is disabled. Although the claimant generally continues to have the burden of proving disability, a limited burden of production shifts to the Commissioner at this step. To support a finding that the claimant is not disabled at this step, the Commissioner must provide evidence demonstrating that other work exists in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform, given his RFC, age, education and work experience.*fn106

C. The "Treating Physician" Rule

Under the "treating physician" rule, "the medical opinion of a claimant's treating physician is given controlling weight if it is well supported by medical findings and not inconsistent with other substantial record evidence."*fn107

When a treating physician's opinion is not given controlling weight, the regulations require the ALJ to consider several factors in determining how much weight it should receive. These factors include: (1) the frequency of examination and the length, nature, and extent of the treatment relationship; (2) the evidence in support of the opinion; (3) the opinion's consistency with the record as a whole; and (4) whether the opinion is from a specialist.*fn108 After considering the above factors, the ALJ must "'comprehensively set forth [his] reasons for the weight assigned to a treating physician's opinion.'"*fn109 Failure to provide "'good reasons for not crediting the opinion of a claimant's treating physician'" is a ground for remand.*fn110


A. Sufficiency of the ALJ's Consideration of the Combined Effect of Juliano's Impairments Juliano argues that the ALJ erred as a matter of law in failing to consider the combined effects of his impairments, including pain.*fn111 Under the five-step process required by the SSA, at step two the ALJ must determine whether "the claimant has . . . a combination of impairments that is 'severe.'"*fn112 At this step, if the ALJ does not find a combination of severe impairments, the analysis does not proceed.

Here, the ALJ found that Juliano did suffer from a combination of impairments that were severe.*fn113 He reviewed all the medical evidence in combination and discussed the development of Juliano's medical condition in detail.*fn114 Furthermore, the ALJ listed all of Juliano's impairments and specifically discussed his experience with pain and his need for pain medication.*fn115 The ALJ's decision demonstrates that he considered all of Juliano's impairments in combination and, indeed, found this combination of impairments to be severe for the purpose of the second step of the five-step process.

Additionally, Juliano argues that the ALJ failed to explain why his impairments did not meet or equal in severity an impairment found in the Listing of Impairments analyzed in the third step of the five-step process. However, the ALJ explicitly stated his reasons for this finding, stating "[s]pecifically, there is no documentation of any motor, sensory, or reflex deficits as required under medical listing 1.04A. There has also been no evidence of an inability to ambulate or to do fine/gross movements effectively within the context of medical listing 1.02."*fn116

This analysis, which is consistent with the medical evidence summarized by the ALJ as well as Juliano's testimony that he can go for walks and perform movements such as closing buttons and unscrewing bottle caps,*fn117 sufficiently sets forth the grounds in support of this finding.

B. The ALJ's Treatment of the Treating Physician's Opinion

Juliano argues that the ALJ erred in failing "to give controlling weight to the opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician regarding the nature and extent of Plaintiff's impairments . . . and failing to consider whether to give significant weight to the opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician as to the nature and extent of Plaintiff's impairments."*fn118 However, there is no evidence that the ALJ disregarded the opinion of any of Juliano's treating physicians such as Dr. Wysell, Dr. Freeman or Dr. Garner. While the ALJ credited the opinions of two consulting physicians -- Dr. Roffman and Dr. Li -- who reported a functional assessment consistent with the primary strength demands of sedentary work, he additionally reviewed all reports from multiple treating physicians.*fn119 Nothing in these reports conflicted with the RFC assessment of the consulting physicians. The ALJ fully credited the opinion of Juliano's treating physicians who found him incapable of performing past relevant work.*fn120 Juliano argues that the opinion of Dr. Garner should have been given controlling weight.*fn121 However, the ALJ fully credited Dr. Garner's opinion, which held that Juliano was disabled from performing police work and was extremely limited in his use of "his entire upper right extremity."*fn122

Additionally, although Juliano urges this Court to accept Dr. Wysell's opinion, in part, because it is supported by Dr. Roffman, Dr. Roffman found that Juliano was able to work as long as he was not required to use his right upper extremity.*fn123

This is consistent with the RFC considered by the VE.*fn124 There is no evidence in the record that the ALJ disregarded the opinion of any treating physician.

Next, Juliano argues that the ALJ failed to fully credit Dr. Wysell's February 2010 assessment, which was submitted nearly one year after the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Council determined that the assessment was not contrary to the weight of the evidence currently on the record.*fn125 The Commissioner argues that this assessment does not relate to the examinations Dr. Wysell performed during the relevant time period. Instead, this assessment pertains to a July 2009 examination conducted months after the ALJ's determination. This appears to be accurate. In the reports submitted during the relevant time period, Dr. Wysell noted that Juliano was doing well on Neurontin and Mobic. Only after the ALJ's determination did Dr. Wysell report that an increased dosage of Neurontin was causing "rage" problems.*fn126 Further, none of Dr. Wysell's three reports during the relevant time period described the level of severity or complete disability that Dr. Wysell determined to be the case in her 2010 assessment. Moreover, no other physicians observed symptoms such as rage, fatigue, weakness, and loss of attention and concentration, as noted in Dr. Wysell's 2010 assessment. Even if this assessment were to relate to the period at issue, newly submitted evidence does not warrant remand, provided that it "does not add so much as to make the ALJ's decision contrary to the weight of the evidence."*fn127 Although it is evident that Juliano experiences pain due to his injuries, the ALJ's determination that he was not totally disabled during the relevant time period is supported by the record.

Lastly, Juliano argues that the ALJ was required to more fully develop the record. "Where there are no obvious gaps in the administrative record and the ALJ already possesses a 'complete medical history,'" the ALJ is under no obligation to re-contact a physician.*fn128 Here, there were no obvious gaps in the record. Because there was substantial evidence in the record on which the ALJ based his determination, the ALJ was under no further obligation to develop the record.

C. Sufficiency of the ALJ's Evaluation of Juliano's Credibility

Juliano argues that the ALJ erred in evaluating his credibility.*fn129 An ALJ is permitted to consider an individual's activity level in making a determination of credibility.*fn130 The ALJ will consider all of the medical and non-medical information in determining credibility.*fn131

In this case, the ALJ properly considered plaintiff's ability to take walks, drive, cook, shower, groom and dress himself, and care for his nine-month-old daughter.*fn132 The ALJ identified the basis for his finding on credibility and stated that Juliano "is not as functionally compromised as alleged."*fn133 Because the ALJ cited a list of Juliano's regular activities that contradict his claims of extreme pain and inability to perform sedentary work,*fn134 and personally observed Juliano in an upright seated position for a significant period of time,*fn135 the ALJ properly determined that Juliano's subjective complaints were not fully credible and sufficiently set forth the grounds in support of this finding.

D. Sufficiency of the ALJ's Residual Functional Capacity Finding

Juliano argues that the ALJ erred in failing to do a function-by-function analysis of his impairments and that the ALJ's evaluation of his RFC was flawed.*fn136 While the Second Circuit has not specifically addressed the requirement of a function-by-function assessment,*fn137 other circuits have held that while a function-by-function analysis is desirable, the ALJ's written opinion need not discuss each function, especially those functions for which no limitation is alleged.*fn138 Within the Southern District of New York, courts have reached different conclusions as to whether a function-by-function analysis is required or merely desirable.*fn139

Here, the ALJ specifically addressed most of Juliano's functions. He noted that "there was a moderate limitation in prolonged and repetitive lifting, carrying, reaching high, reaching back with the right upper extremity" and "limitations in repetitive range of motion of the neck."*fn140 In addition, the ALJ noted that he "carefully observed the claimant during the course of the hearing as appearing to be quite comfortable in a seated position without any observable difficulties."*fn141 The ALJ discussed all of the evidence in detail -- including the results of MRIs, physician evaluations, and Juliano's testimony regarding his regular level of activity -- before concluding that although Juliano is "unable to perform any past relevant work," he is capable of "exerting up to 10 pounds of force occasionally" and can "lift, carry, push, pull, or otherwise move objects, including the human body."*fn142 The ALJ's RFC determination requires no further detail.

E. Sufficiency of the ALJ's Evaluation of the Vocational Witness

Juliano argues that the ALJ erred in evaluating the testimony of the VE and posed hypothetical questions which did not reflect all of Juliano's limitations.*fn143 In support of this claim, Juliano argues that the ALJ's hypothetical question to the vocational expert described Juliano's impairment as causing "some" limitation in reaching.*fn144 This is an inaccurate description of the ALJ's question. A review of the transcript shows that his hypothetical description actually stated, "[n]o overhead reaching with the right arm. No reaching behind him with the right arm."*fn145 This description accurately characterizes Juliano's limitations and is consistent with the medical evidence.

The ALJ credited the testimony of the VE about the jobs which Juliano could perform and their existence in the national economy.*fn146 The ALJ found no conflict between the jobs identified by the VE and the descriptions in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles.*fn147 Pursuant to SSR 00-4p, the ALJ's decision to rely on the testimony of the VE was reasonable.


For the reasons stated above, Juliano's Complaint is dismissed, his request for attorneys' fees is denied, the Commissioner's cross-motion is granted, and the Commissioner's decision finding that Juliano is not disabled is affirmed. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close these motions [Docket Nos. 9 and 11] and this case.


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