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John v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 12, 2014

GLENROY JOHN, pro se, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


DORA L. IRIZARRY, District Judge.

On March 31, 2010, pro se Plaintiff Glenroy John ("Plaintiff") filed an application for Social Security disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and, on April 26, 2010, filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under the Social Security Act (the "Act"). ( See Certified Administrative Record ("R."), Dkt. Entry No. 19 at 10.) On June 8, 2010, the applications were denied and Plaintiff requested a hearing. ( Id. ) On August 31, 2011, Plaintiff appeared, pro se, and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Moises Penalver (the "ALJ"). (R. 40-53.) Due to a lack of medical evidence, the hearing was adjourned to more fully develop the record. (R. 50-53.) The hearing continued on November 3, 2011, at which Plaintiff appeared pro se. (R. 54-106.) By a decision dated April 4, 2012, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (R. 17.) On March 12, 2013, the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. 1-3.)

The Commissioner moved for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, seeking affirmance of the denial of benefits. ( See Mem. of Law in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. for J. on the Pleadings ("Def. Mem."), Dkt. Entry No. 18.) Plaintiff filed no opposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted. The appeal is dismissed.


A. Non-Medical and Self-Reported Evidence

Plaintiff was born in 1973. (R. 70.) He graduated from high school and completed one year of college. (R. 74.) Plaintiff worked as a furniture mover for Victory Van Line from 1995 to 1996. (R. 193.) Between 1995 and 1996, he also worked as a security officer, patrolling the lobby of a public housing building. (R. 93, 193.) He spent three hours per shift standing or walking and four to five hours per shift sitting, but no lifting was required. ( Id. ) From 1998 to 2001, he worked as a package handler for FedEx. (R. 193.) In 2001, he was self-employed as a home cleaner. (R. 94-95.) From 2001 to 2003, he worked as a porter at a college. (R. 193.) From 2005 to 2006, he worked as a grounds keeper for the parks department, which was his last job. ( Id. ) His current source of income, which he has received since April 2010, is public assistance. (R. 75, 164.)

In a disability report from April 2010, he stated that he was unable to work because of partial paralysis on his left side, unspecified kidney, heart, and liver problems, and diabetes. (R. 191.) The pain on his left side spanned from his heart to his kidneys and to his left testicle. (R. 79.) He described the pain as poking, "like a knife go[ing] inside me." (R. 78, 207.) In a function report from May 2010, Plaintiff wrote that he had the ability to drive, but usually relied upon public transportation. (R. 73.) He stated that he could no longer work, go camping, or take his sons to parks or movies. (R. 199.)

Plaintiff testified that, on one occasion, when his left side pain was at its strongest, he collapsed outside his building. (R. 76.) After collapsing, he was taken to Staten Island University Hospital ("SIUH").[1] ( Id. ) According to Plaintiff, a MRI of his left side was negative and blood and urine tests were negative. (R. 77, 79.) He testified that Dr. Alex Bruckstein performed an endoscopy and diagnosed him with unspecified viral infections. (R. 81-82.) Dr. Bruckstein prescribed Metrodoziatab, Prilosec, and Clarithyomycin, but Plaintiff claimed that medicine only hid the pain and he never healed fully. (R. 82.)

Plaintiff further testified that he is separated from his wife and their children live with her. (R. 71.) He lives alone in public housing. (R. 71-72.) He is able to dress, bathe, and cook for himself. (R. 72, 87.) He performs light household chores. (R. 88.) However, he needs help carrying groceries and tires after thirty minutes of housework. ( Id. ) He testified that his daily activities include watching the news, cleaning and vacuuming the house, caring for his three birds, preparing meals, checking the mail, walking, and reading. (R. 89.)

Notably, Plaintiff testified that he could work if he was able to alternate positions frequently, and was not required to lift more than 20 pounds, stand or walk for longer than four hours, and sit for more than six hours. (R. 90.)

B. Medical Evidence

1. Medical Evidence from February 26, 2006 (Alleged Onset Date) Through December 31, 2009 (Date Last Insured for DIB)

There is no evidence from this period.

2. Medical Evidence after April 26, 2010 (SSI Application Date)

On June 3, 2010, Chitoor Govindaraj, M.D., of Brook Island Medical Group, consultatively examined plaintiff. (R. 217-219.) Plaintiff stated that he was laid off from his last job. (R. 217.) He complained of unspecified heart and kidney trouble as well as diabetes. ( Id. ) He stated that he had no prior surgeries or medical admissions and had not seen a doctor since 2004. (R. 217-18.) He was diagnosed with diabetes ten years ago and he preferred to diet and exercise rather than medicate. (R. 218.) He walked for exercise. ( Id. ) He also reported that he suffered an unspecified injury to his left testicle during high school. ( Id. ) He complained of a recent cough, which caused pain from his chest to his left testicle. ( Id. )

Dr. Govindaraj observed that Plaintiff was alert and not in distress. ( Id. ) He was five feet and eleven inches tall and weighed 224 pounds. ( Id. ) His blood pressure was 130/80. ( Id. ) Examination of Plaintiff's head revealed no abnormalities. ( Id. ) Examination of his neck revealed no masses and movement was normal. ( Id. ) Plaintiff's chest was symmetrical with good air entry bilaterally with no rhonchi, rales or wheezing. ( Id. ) Plaintiff's abdomen was soft, non-distended, and non-tender. ( Id. ) Examination of his spine revealed no tenderness and he exhibited a normal range of motion. (R. 219.) Plaintiff was able to bend and touch the floor. ( Id. ) Examination of his heart revealed no abnormalities. ( Id. ) There was no sign of congestive heart failure such as hepatomegaly, peripheral or pulmonary edema. ( Id. ) Plaintiff's extremities showed no signs of cyanosis, clubbing or edema. ( Id. ) His peripheral pulses, vibratory sense, and knee jerk were 4/4. ( Id. )

Examination of Plaintiff's central nervous system revealed no evidence of cerebral or cerebellar involvement. ( Id. ) His nerves were within normal limits and his motor and sensory systems and reflex findings were normal. ( Id. ) The range of motion of his back and joints were normal. ( Id. ) His hand dexterity was normal and there was no evidence of muscle spasm. ( Id. ) His straight leg raising was normal. ( Id. ) There was no evidence of subluxation, contractures, ankylosis, instability, redness, heat or swelling. ( Id. ) His gait was grossly normal. ( Id. ) His posture was normal and he could walk without a cane. ( Id. )

Dr. Govindaraj diagnosed Plaintiff with a history of diabetes mellitus, heart trouble, and kidney problems. ( Id. ) He concluded that Plaintiff was medically stable and clear for occupation. ( ...

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