Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
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.

Judith Hiller v. Michael J. Astrue

September 28, 2012

JUDITH HILLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge:

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Plaintiff Judith Hiller appeals the Commissioner of Social Security's (the "Commissioner") decision denying her application for Social Security Disability ("SSD") benefits. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's and the Commissioner's cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Docket Entries 12, 16.) For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED and the Commissioner's motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

As is relevant here, Plaintiff alleged that she was disabled beginning on October 3, 2001 due to severe back and leg pain, anxiety, and depression. (Administrative Record ("R.")

14.) After a hearing at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") denied Plaintiff's SSD application because he found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work. (R. 15-18.) In so finding, he relied primarily on Plaintiff's treating physician's opinion that Plaintiff could stand and walk for one hour each during an eight-hour workday:

As for the opinion evidence, Dr. Edward Yang originally opined that the claimant could sit, stand and walk thirty minutes but most recently opined that the claimant could sit two hours at a time, but did not specify any limitations in sitting in an eight hour day, stand[] and walk[] one hour each in an eight-hour day and lift[] and carry[] ten to twenty pounds. This opinion is therefore consistent with finding the claimant capable of the full range of sedentary work. (R. 17 (emphasis added) (citations omitted).)

DISCUSSION

The Commissioner's decision must be remanded for further consideration consistent with the following discussion.

I. Legal Standard

In reviewing the ruling of the ALJ, this Court will not determine de novo whether Plaintiff is in fact disabled.

Thus, even if the Court may have reached a different decision, it must not substitute its own judgment for that of the ALJ. See Jones v. Sullivan, 949 F.2d 57, 59 (2d Cir. 1991). Instead, this Court must determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by "substantial evidence in the record as a whole or are based on an erroneous legal standard." Curry v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 117, 122 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1998)), superseded by statute on other grounds, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1560. If the Court finds that substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's decision, the decision will be upheld, even if evidence to the contrary exists. See Johnson v. Barnhart, 269 F. Supp. 2d 82, 84 (E.D.N.Y. 2003). "Substantial evidence is such evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Id. The substantial evidence test applies not only to the ALJ's findings of fact, but also to any inferences and conclusions of law drawn from such facts. See id.

To determine if substantial evidence exists to support the ALJ's findings, this Court must "examine the entire record, including conflicting evidence and evidence from which conflicting inferences may be drawn when deciding whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence." See Gonzalez v. Barnhart, No. 01-CV-7449, 2003 WL 21204448, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. May 21, 2003) (quoting Brown v. Apfel, 174 F.3d 59, 62 (2d Cir. 1999)). "The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive . . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Where an ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence, however, or where the Court is "'unable to fathom the ALJ's rationale in relation to the evidence in the record without further findings or clearer explanation for the decision,' remand is appropriate." Hernandez v. Astrue, 814 F. Supp. 2d 168, 184 (E.D.N.Y. 2011) (quoting Pratts v. Chater, 94 F.3d 34, 39 (2d Cir. 1996)).

II. Remand is Appropriate

Plaintiff's case must be remanded ...


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.