United States District Court, N.D. New York
PETER A. GORTON, ESQ., LACHMAN & GORTON, Endicott, NY, Counsel for Plaintiff.
KAREN T. CALLAHAN, ESQ., U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II, New York, NY, Counsel for Defendant.
DECISION and ORDER
GLENN T. SUDDABY, District Judge.
Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Amy Marie Alexander ("Plaintiff") against the Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "the Commissioner") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are the parties' crossmotions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 13, 15.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is denied in part and granted in part and Defendant's motion is granted.
I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND
A. Factual Background
Plaintiff was born on September 26, 1973. She completed a high school level of education and some college. Plaintiff worked full time as a certified nurse's aide ("CNA"). Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists of fibromyalgia, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorder, mood disorder, and migraines. Her alleged disability onset date is January 2, 2004, and her date last insured is June 20, 2008.
B. Procedural History
On October 10, 2008, Plaintiff applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("SSD") under Title XVI and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title II. Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which she timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("the ALJ"). On June 9, 2010, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ, Marie D. Greener. (T. 93-121.) The ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act on August 6, 2010. (T. 130-137.) On February 22, 2012, the Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request for review, remanding her case. (T. 143-145.) On August 28, 2012, Plaintiff again appeared before ALJ Greener. (T. 39-92.) On October 4, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. (T. 9-38.) The Plaintiff again requested an Appeal Council review, which was denied on November 8, 2013. (T. 1-6.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.
C. The ALJ's Decision
Generally, in her decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 12-31.) First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met her insured dated through June 30, 2008 and further, that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 7, 2006. (T. 16.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of fibromyalgia, major depressive disorder, general anxiety disorder, and panic disorder with agoraphobia. ( Id. ) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's medically determinable impairments of patent foramen ovale ("PFO"), cervical spondylosis, migraines, Raynaud's syndrome, extrapyramidal disorder, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome ("IBS"), duodenal disorder, restless leg syndrome, and tobacco use were non-severe impairments. (T. 22.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments located in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix. 1. (T. 23.) The ALJ specifically considered listing 12.04 and 12.06. ( Id. ) Fourth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to do "light work" with additional mental limitations. ( Id. ) Specifically, Plaintiff was limited to "low contact work by which is meant tasks not requiring working in coordination or conjunction with others; no tandem working; and no work requiring confrontations with others (such as restraining, detaining or negotiating with others). The work is to deal with objects rather than with people, and is to involve low stress' tasks, by which is meant routing daily tasks which do not significantly change in pace or location on a daily basis." (T. 24.) Fifth, the ALJ determined that although Plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work, there were jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (T. 29-30.)
II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
A. Plaintiff's Arguments
Plaintiff makes four separate arguments in support of her motion for judgment on the pleadings. First, Plaintiff argues that remand for payment of benefits is appropriate because the factual findings support a conclusion of disabled. (Dkt. No. 13 at 12-14 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's RFC determination is not supported by substantial evidence. ( Id. at 14-21.) Third, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to assess all of Plaintiff's severe impairments. ( Id. at 21-22.) Fourth, and lastly, the Plaintiff argues that the Commissioner failed to sustain her burden at Step Five. ( Id. at 22-25.)
B. Defendant's Arguments
In response, Defendant makes essentially two arguments. First, Defendant argues that remand for further proceedings is proper here, where the ALJ failed to fully evaluate all medical opinions in the record. (Dkt. No. 15 at 6-9 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Defendant argues that the remand for payment of benefits is not supported by the record. ( Id. at 9-12.)
III. RELEVANT LEGAL ...