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Morse v. Astrue

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 25, 2013

JAMES ELWIN MORSE, Plaintiff,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

Jonathan P. Foster, Sr., Esq., Foster Law Office, Sayre, PA, for Plaintiff.

Kathryn L. Smith, AUSA, Kelly Geary, Law Student[1] U.S. Attorney's Office, Rochester, NY, for the Commissioner.

DECISION & ORDER

CHARLES J. SIRAGUSA, District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Before the Court is a motion for judgment on the pleadings, ECF No. 8, filed by the Commissioner of Social Security on January 10, 2013. The issue presented is whether the Commissioner's decision that Plaintiff was not disabled is supported by substantial evidence. For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

BACKGROUND

The Commissioner alleges that his final decision was supported by substantial evidence. In support of his position, he lays out the five-step sequential analysis required in determining whether or not a claimant is disabled.

Step one requires the ALJ to determine whether the claimant is engaging in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b) and 416.920(b). The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in any substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of May 1, 2005. R. 17.

Step two requires the ALJ to determine whether the claimant has a medically determinable impairment or combination of impairments that is "severe." 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c). The ALJ determined that Plaintiff does have severe impairments, consisting of: asthma, obesity, anxiety disorder, depressive disorder, impulse control disorder, history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and history of polysubstance abuse. R. 17.

Step three requires the ALJ to "determine whether the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically equals the criteria of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R § 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, and 416.926)." R. 16. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments. R. 19.

Prior to proceeding to step four, the ALJ must determine the claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC). 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e) and 416.920(e).

An individual's residual functional capacity is his ability to do physical and mental work activities on a sustained basis despite limitations from his impairments. In making this finding, the undersigned must consider all of the claimant's impairments, including impairments that are not severe (20 CFR 404.1520(e), 404.1545, 416.920(e), and 416.945; SSR 96-8p).

R. 16-17. In that regard, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff,

has the residual functional capacity to perform a wide range of medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c). Specifically, the claimant can occasionally lift, carry, push, or pull no more than 50 pounds; can frequently lift, carry, push, or pull up to 25 pounds; can stand or walk, in combination, for about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks; can sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks; should avoid concentrated exposure to temperature extremes, humidity, wetness, fumes, gases, odors, and other respiratory irritants; has mildly limited ability to maintain attention and concentration; can work in low stress environment defined as occasional decision-making and occasional interaction with co-workers and the general public; but is otherwise able to understand, remember and carry out simple 1-2 step work ...

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