United States District Court, W.D. New York
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Howard D. Olinsky, Olinsky & Shurtliff, LLP, Syracuse, NY, for Plaintiff.
Kathryn L. Smith, U.S. Attorney's Office, Rochester, NY, for Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
DAVID G. LARIMER, District Judge.
Plaintiff appeals from a denial of disability insurance benefits by the Commissioner of Social Security (" the Commissioner" ). The action is one brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final determination of the Commissioner.
On September 23, 2005, plaintiff, then thirty-one years old, filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. Plaintiff alleged an inability to work since June 27, 2000, due to lower back pain and a right arm injury. (T. 93-94). His application was initially denied. (T. 22, 24). Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was held on May 28, 2008 before Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ" ) Jerome Hornblass. (T. 83-86, 357-68). The ALJ issued a decision on June 23, 2008, concluding that plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 56-57). The Appeals Council granted a request by plaintiff for review, and remanded the matter for further proceedings. (T. 42-47). A second hearing was held September 17, 2009 before ALJ Brian Kane. (T. 306-56). ALJ Kane considered the case de novo, and issued a decision denying plaintiff's claim on November 4, 2009. (T. 11-21). That decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied review on August 23, 2011. (T. 5-7). Plaintiff now appeals.
The plaintiff has moved (Dkt. # 7), and the Commissioner has cross moved (Dkt. # 11), for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(c). For the reasons that follow, the Commissioner's motion (Dkt. # 11) is granted, plaintiff's motion (Dkt. # 7) is denied, and the complaint is dismissed.
Determination of whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act requires an ALJ to follow a five-step sequential evaluation, familiarity with which is presumed. See Bowen v. City of New York, 476 U.S. 467, 470-71, 106 S.Ct. 2022, 90 L.Ed.2d 462 (1986).
The Commissioner's decision that plaintiff is not disabled must be affirmed if it is supported by substantial evidence, and if the ALJ applied the correct legal standards. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Machadio v. Apfel, 276 F.3d 103, 108 (2d Cir.2002). Substantial evidence is defined as " more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229, 59 S.Ct. 206, 83 L.Ed. 126 (1938)). " The Court carefully considers the whole record, examining evidence from both sides ‘ because an analysis of the substantiality of the evidence must also include that which detracts from its weight.’ " Tejada v. Apfel, 167 F.3d 770, 774 (2d Cir.1999) quoting Quinones v. Chater, 117 F.3d 29, 33 (2d Cir.1997). Still, " it is not the function of a reviewing court to decide de novo whether a claimant was disabled." Melville v. Apfel, 198 F.3d 45, 52 (2d Cir.1999). " Where the Commissioner's decision rests on adequate findings supported by evidence having rational probative force, [this Court] will not substitute our judgment for that of the Commissioner." Veino v. Barnhart, 312 F.3d 578, 586 (2d Cir.2002).
ALJ Kane issued a thorough, ten-page decision analyzing plaintiff's claim of disability, and ...