United States District Court, S.D. New York
JOHN P. CARWAY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
Gary James Gogerty, Esq., Drake, Loeb, Heller, Kennedy, Gogerty, Gaba & Rodd, PLLC New Windsor, NY, for Plaintiff.
Leslie A. Ramirez-Fisher, Assistant United States Attorney United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, New York, NY.
Esther Kim, Social Security Administration, New York, NY, for Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
SHIRA A. SCHEINDLIN, District Judge.
John Carway brings this action pursuant to the Social Security Act (the "Act"), 1 seeking judicial review of a final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner") denying his claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB"). Carway requests a finding that he is entitled to disability benefits or, in the alternative, a remand of the case for further proceedings. He also requests an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act. The Commissioner has cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") finding that Carway was not disabled and, therefore, not entitled to DIB during the period under review is supported by substantial evidence and should be affirmed. For the following reasons, the Commissioner's motion is granted, the decision denying benefits is affirmed, and the case is dismissed.
A. Procedural History
1. The First Application for Disability Benefits
The evidence contained in the administrative record has been summarized by the ALJ in his decision denying DIB. I will recount only those facts pertinent to this motion. On August 31, 2004, Carway filed his first application for DIB, alleging disability beginning on April 30, 2004. Carway's application was initially denied on November 4, 2004. Following a hearing, the ALJ found that Carway was not disabled. Carway requested review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council upheld this determination on September 7, 2006.
2. The Present Action
On December 10, 2010, Carway filed another application for DIB, alleging disability beginning October 12, 2005. Carway's application was initially denied on May 12, 2011. Carway requested a hearing before an ALJ where Carway, represented by an attorney, appeared and testified by video on March 14, 2012. On March 27, 2012, the All found that Carway was not disabled. Carway requested review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. That request was denied on February 4, 2013.
B. The Administrative Record
The administrative record consists of non-medical evidence, medical evidence, and hearing testimony.
1. Non-Medical Evidence
Carway, who is now fifty years old, was forty-one at the alleged onset of his disability on October 12, 2005. He has a twelfth-grade education. Carway lives with his wife and three school-age children. Beginning in 1990 and through his retirement due to disability in April 2004, Carway was a police officer, most recently at Rodman's Neck in the Bronx, New York, where he worked as a firearms training instructor and clerical assistant. Prior to becoming a police officer, Carway also worked as a union carpenter.
In 1997, Carway had surgery to correct the sciatic pain in his back and both of his legs. He was injured in 2002 after being involved in a police car accident. His most recent disability is due to back pain, obesity, and a blood disorder. At his hearing, Carway claimed that his injuries prevent him from lifting more than ten pounds, walking or standing longer than fifteen to twenty minutes, or sitting for prolonged periods. He also testified that he only takes pain medication on an as-needed basis as it upsets his stomach. In describing his daily activities, Carway stated that he is able to shower, cook, shop, watch television, perform light cleaning, and perform childcare duties. Carway testified that he is also capable of attending sporting events and church on Sunday. He noted that while he was able to travel to Florida and the Dominican Republic, in 2008 and 2010, respectively for family vacations, he stood during most of the flight. Carway ...