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Ridgeway v. Colvin

United States District Court, Second Circuit

September 25, 2013

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.


Plaintiff, Kimmy Evet Ridgeway ("Ridgeway" or "Plaintiff"), brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act § 216(i) and § 223, seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") for the period of time from November 1, 2004 through January 21, 2009. Plaintiff alleges that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") is not supported by substantial evidence in the record and is contrary to applicable legal standards.

On April 26, 2013, the Commissioner moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g) on the grounds that the findings of the Commissioner are supported by substantial evidence. On May 2, 2013, Plaintiff cross-moved for summary judgment seeking to reverse the Commissioner's decision.

For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds that there is substantial evidence to support the Commissioner's decision. Therefore, the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted and the Plaintiff's motion is denied.


On January 21, 2009, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB under Title II, § 216(i) and § 223 of the Social Security Act, alleging a disability since November 1, 2004 arising from morbid obesity, arthritis, knee and back problems and high blood pressure. T.203.[1] Plaintiff's claim was denied on April 27, 2009. T.81-85. At Plaintiff's request, an administrative hearing was conducted on September 13, 2010 before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). T.17-44. Ridgeway testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. In addition, a vocational expert testified.

On October 15, 2010, the ALJ issued a Decision finding that Ridgeway was disabled beginning on January 21, 2009 but not from the alleged onset date of November 1, 2004. T.52-67. On August 10, 2012, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's Decision the final decision of the Commissioner. T.1-3. Plaintiff filed this action on October 11, 2012.


Plaintiff is a 50 year old high school graduate with an associate's degree in. T.21, 290. She worked as a home health care aide from 1997 through October 31, 2004 at which time, Ridgeway claims, her employer let her go because she could no longer perform the necessary work. T.21, 22, 204.

Ridgeway was diagnosed with morbid obesity and hypertension and represented that she needed help with household chores because of knee and feet problems as well as a lack of endurance. T.217. In her disability application, she claimed she attended church services four times each week and attended computer classes twice a week. T.219. She noted that she could walk about 20 feet before needing to rest. T.220.

Prior to working as a home health aide, Ridgeway worked as a tax preparer in 1989 and cared for her grandson from September 2002 to 2003. T.225. As part of her responsibilities, she would lift a car seat and the child, which weighed approximately 25 pounds. T.229.

A. Medical History During the Relevant Period

Plaintiff was treated on June 15, 2004, by Dr. Gregory Denysenko at Wilson Medical Center for a sinus infection with antibiotics. At this appointment, Plaintiff was also advised to control her hypertension. T.316. Ridgeway was first treated by her primary care physician, Dr. Farokh Foroozesh on March 29, 2005, for "increasing abdominal girth" which she was experiencing since December. T.317. Dr. Foroozesh noted that Plaintiff's weight was over 350 pounds. He scheduled Plaintiff for ultrasounds and noted that she had uncontrolled hypertension. T.317. In a document dated May 6, 2005, Dr. Foroozesh indicated that Plaintiff was "not able to work at this time." T.465.

On June 13, 2005, Dr. Foroozesh noted that Ridgeway did not go for her prescribed abdominal CT but that she reported she felt much better. T.319. She was prescribed medication to control hypertension and advised to lose weight. T.319.

Plaintiff was treated on December 7, 2005, by Dr. Foroozesh for obesity, hypertension and elevated bilirubin. T.315. Dr. Foroozesh noted that Plaintiff's hypertension was "nicely controlled" and that Plaintiff was trying to lose weight with diet and exercise. He recommended a follow up visit in four months. T.315. On May 1, 2006, Dr. Foroozesh found that her hypertension was controlled but that her weight prevented her from being able to walk more than half a block without resting. Plaintiff used Lift Line to travel to appointments. T.323.

On January 17, 2007, Ridgeway was treated by Dr. Foroozesh for earaches that had been occurring for months. He also noted that she suffered from obesity and hypertension. According to Dr. Foroozesh, Plaintiff's hypertension was controlled. T.325.

On June 15, 2007, Dr. Foroozesh's medical notes show that Plaintiff's condition remained the same. T.327. He encouraged Ridgeway to see a dietician to reduce her weight. T.327.

In December of 2007, Dr. Foroozesh indicated that Plaintiff was limited in walking, standing, lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling. T.469-470. He noted Plaintiff was able to use public transportation and that she had limited range of motion due to obesity. T.469. Also in December, 2007, Dr. Foroozesh completed a New York State Temporary Disability form which indicated that Plaintiff was "moderately limited" in walking, standing, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling or climbing stairs. T.477. He saw no evidence of any limitation for sitting, seeing, hearing, speaking or using her hands nor any evidence at all of limitations in mental functioning. T.477. He specifically found that Plaintiff was "able to do light work." T.478.

Plaintiff was treated by a dermatologist, Dr. Dennis Bender, on May 22, 2008, for evaluation of hyperpigmentation and dryness of her hands as well as shortening of the hair on the left side of her head. T.314. Dr. Bender noted that Plaintiff had not recently seen her primary care provider. He referred her to see her primary care physician and recommended Lac-Hydrin cream for her hands and wrists. T.314.

Ridgeway presented to Strong Memorial Hospital, Strong Health Center with complaints of hypertension on September 2, 2008. T.267. Plaintiff explained that she had a history of hypertension for the last 5 to 8 years but she needed to transfer from Wilson Health Center because she had difficulty with transportation. The treating physician noted that hypertension was poorly controlled possibly from noncompliance with medications and diet. T.267. Plaintiff was advised to lose weight, maintain a low sodium diet and take her medications regularly. Upon follow up two weeks later, the Strong Health records showed that Plaintiff's hypertension was higher than her first visit. T. 265. She failed to fill the prescription for Norvasc that was given to her at the last visit. Again, Plaintiff was advised of the importance to lose weight, take the prescription medication and maintain a low sodium diet. T.265. She was also advised to see a dietician to help her lose weight.

On October 2, 2008, Plaintiff was again seen at Strong Health for follow up care of hypertension. T.263. Plaintiff stated that she forgot to take her medication. She was to be taking Triamterene and Amlodipine for blood pressure. The medical records again report that Plaintiff's hypertension was "very poorly controlled from noncompliance with medications." T.263 Plaintiff was instructed to take Norvasc daily and to decrease the Aldactone to half a tablet daily. Moreover, Dr. ...

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