United States District Court, W.D. New York
For Donald Harris, Plaintiff: Peter A. Gorton, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lachman & Gorton, Endicott, NY.
For Michael Astrue, Commisioner of Social Security, Defendant: Kathryn L. Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Rochester, NY.
DAVID G. LARIMER, United States District Judge.
DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff appeals from a denial of disability insurance benefits by the Commissioner of Social Security (" the Commissioner" ). The action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final determination of the Commissioner.
On April 16, 2007, plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income, alleging disability beginning June 1, 2003, due to degenerative disc disease, diabetes, hypertension, and depression. (Tr. 17, 101-11, 119-20). The Commissioner denied those applications on August 9, 2007. (Tr. 17, 48-56). Thereafter, the plaintiff requested a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (" ALJ" ), and a video hearing was held on October 23, 2009, before ALJ John P. Ramos. (Tr. 17, 26-43, 59). The ALJ reviewed the case de novo and, on February 5, 2010, found that plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act. (Tr. 17-25). The Appeals Council then denied plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final determination of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3). Plaintiff now appeals.
The plaintiff has moved (Dkt. #9), and the Commissioner has cross moved (Dkt. #10) for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 12(c). For the following reasons, the Commissioner's motion is granted, plaintiff's motion is denied, and the complaint is dismissed with prejudice.
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. Additionally, the statute directs that when considering such a claim, the Court must accept the findings of fact made by the Commissioner, provided that such findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. 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). " 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. 1998) (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 plaintiff was disabled." Melville v. Apfel, 198 F.3d 45, 52 (2d Cir. 1999). " Where the ...