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Stone v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

October 21, 2014

JEREMIAH STONE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

PETER M. MARGOLIUS, ESQ., ATTORNEY AT LAW, Catskill, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

VERNON NORWOOD, ESQ., SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Office of General Counsel, New York, New York, Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 30, 2013, Plaintiff Jeremiah Stone commenced this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's decision to deny Plaintiff's applications for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). See Dkt. No. 1. Presently before the Court are the parties' respective motions for judgment on the pleadings. See Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on September 7, 2010 and an application for DBI on September 21, 2010, both alleging a disability onset date of June 26, 2010. Administrative Record ("R.") at 112-17. On November 30, 2010, Plaintiff's applications were concurrently denied. Id. at 65. After a requested hearing, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") denied Plaintiff's claims for benefits on December 1, 2011. See id. at 19-35. Plaintiff requested review by the Appeals Council, which review was denied on May 31, 2013, thereby making the ALJ's denial the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Id. at 1-18.

At the time of hearing, Plaintiff was thirty-two years old, with a high school education by way of an Individualized Education Program ("IEP") diploma, and had past work experience as a cleaner. See id. at 24-26, 112. The record evidence in this case is undisputed. See Dkt. No. 11 at 2-3; Dkt. No. 12 at 2-6 ("The Commissioner incorporates plaintiff's statement of facts..., with the exception of any inferences, arguments, or conclusions contained therein...."). Therefore, the Court adopts the parties' factual recitations, with the exceptions of the factual recitations in paragraph 9, items 7 and 9 of the Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings, which contradict the evidence of record.[1]

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

For purposes of both DIB and SSI, a person is disabled when he is unable "to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Commissioner has established a five-step analysis for evaluating disability claims:

"In essence, if the Commissioner determines (1) that the claimant is not working, (2) that he has a severe impairment, ' (3) that the impairment is not one [listed in Appendix 1 of the regulations] that conclusively requires a determination of disability, and (4) that the claimant is not capable of continuing in his prior type of work, the Commissioner must find him disabled if (5) there is not another type of work the claimant can do." The claimant bears the burden of proof on the first four steps, while the Social Security Administration bears the burden on the last step.

Green-Younger v. Barnhart, 335 F.3d 99, 106 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Draegert v. Barnhart, 311 F.3d 468, 472 (2d Cir. 2002)).

In reviewing a final decision by the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405, the Court does not determine de novo whether a plaintiff is disabled. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Wagner v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856, 860 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, the Court must examine the Administrative Transcript to ascertain whether the correct legal standards were applied and whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. See Shaw v. Chater, 221 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2000); Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1998). "Substantial evidence" is evidence that amounts to "more than a mere scintilla, '" and it has been defined as "such relevant evidence as a reasonable ...


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