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Legette v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 19, 2014

REGINALD BERNARD LEGETTE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

ORDER

NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, District Judge.

Claimant, Reginald Bernard Legette, [2] brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration's ("SSA") decision that he is not disabled and therefore is not entitled to disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). (Compl. (Dkt. 1).) Defendant, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, has filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) to affirm the SSA's decision and dismiss the action. (Def. Mot. (Dkt. 16).) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is DENIED and the case is REMANDED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Claimant

Claimant was born on September 18, 1963, with hemophilia. (Administrative Record ("Admin. R.") (Dkt. 10) at 75-80.) Claimant received a blood transfusion contaminated with the human immunodeficiency virus ("HIV") in 1974. (Id. at 24.) Claimant attended school through the eleventh grade. (Id. at 22.) Claimant claims he has never worked due to his hemophilia. (Id. at 24.) According to Claimant, hemophilia causes his "legs... ankles... [and] joints [to] really swell." (Id.) Claimant states that his knee swells, he cannot lift anything heavy, and he cannot walk for more than five minutes without taking a ten-minute break. (Id. at 26-28.) Claimant spends his days taking care of his autistic twenty-three-year-old daughter who lives with him, going to church, reading, and watching television. (Id. at 96-104.) Claimant has three children who do not live with him: a nineteen-year-old daughter, a twenty-six-year-old son, and a seventeen-year-old daughter. (Id. at 22.) Claimant was diagnosed with hypertension on May 21, 2010. (Id. at 139.) Claimant states that he is very anxious about his medical conditions, which has caused emotional issues. (Id. at 4, 113.) Claimant was diagnosed with diabetes on December 8, 2012. (Pl.'s Jan. 15, 2013, Ltr. ("Pl. Ltr.") (Dkt. 4).)

B. Procedural History

Claimant filed a pro se application for SSI benefits on January 31, 2010, alleging that he has been disabled since January 1, 2010.[3] (Admin. R. at 96.) He claimed that he was unable to work due to hemophilia. (Id. at 98.) The SSA denied Claimant's application on May, 28, 2010. (Id. at 40)[4] Claimant requested a hearing on June 8, 2010, and appeared before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Margaret A. Donaghy on November 17, 2010. (Id. at 45, 17.) On February 25, 2011, the All concluded that Claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (Id. at 6-16.) Claimant requested review of the ALJ's decision by the SSA Appeals Council, which was denied on February 25, 2011, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Id. at 1-3.) See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c); 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(a). Claimant then filed the Complaint in this court, seeking review of that decision under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g). (Compl.) On January 22, 2013, Claimant submitted a letter stating that he was diagnosed with diabetes on December 8, 2012, and is currently on medication for this illness. (Pl. Ltr. at 1.)

On May 24, 2013, Defendant filed her Answer to the Complaint. (Answer (Dkt. 11).) Defendant then served Claimant with the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and supporting memorandum on July 22, 2013. (Def. July 22, 2013, Ltr. (Dkt. 12).) Claimant did not serve a response to the motion, which was due on July 23, 2013. (Sched. Order (Dkt. 5).) The court instructed Claimant to respond to the Commissioner by October 15, 2013. (Sept. 6, 2013, Order (Dkt. 14).) If Claimant failed to do so, the court instructed Defendant to file the motion with the court. (Id.) The Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings was filed on October 18, 2013, without any response from the Claimant. (Def. Mot.) The court, therefore, deems Defendant's motion unopposed.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) provides: "After the pleadings are closed-but early enough not to delay trial-a party may move for judgment on the pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). "Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate where material facts are undisputed and where a judgment on the merits is possible merely by considering the contents of the pleadings." Sellers v. M.C. Floor Crafters, Inc., 842 F.2d 639, 642 (2d Cir. 1988). The standard for reviewing a Rule 12(c) motion is the same standard that is applied to a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. Bank of N.Y. v. First Millennium, Inc., 607 F.3d 905, 922 (2d Cir. 2010). To survive, the complaint must contain "sufficient factual matter... to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677 (2009). A court is required "to accept as true all allegations in the complaint and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the non-moving party." Vietnam Ass'n for Victims of Agent Orange v. Dow Chem. Co., 517 F.3d 104, 115 (2d Cir. 2008). In addition to the pleadings, the court may consider "statements or documents incorporated by reference in the pleadings... and documents possessed by or known to the plaintiff and upon which it relied in bringing the suit." ATSI Commc'ns, Inc. v. Schaar Fund, Ltd., 493 F.3d 87, 98 (2d Cir. 2007).

B. Administrative Review

"The role of a district court in reviewing the Commissioner's final decision is limited." Pogozelski v. Barnhart, No. 03-CV-2914 (JG), 2004 WL 1146059, at *9 (E.D.N.Y. May 19, 2004). "[I]t is up to the agency, and not [the] court, to weigh the conflicting evidence in the record." Clark v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 143 F.3d 115, 118 (2d Cir. 1998); see also Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008). "A district court may set aside the Commissioner's determination that a claimant is not disabled only if the factual findings are not supported by substantial evidence' or if the decision is based on legal error." Shaw v. Chater, 221 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2000) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)). "Substantial evidence means more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Moran v. Astrue, 569 F.3d 108, 112 (2d Cir. 2009). Thus, as long ...


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