United States District Court, N.D. New York
CONBOY, MCKAY, BACHMAN & KENDALL, LLP Attorneys for
SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Office of Regional General Counsel
Region II Attorneys for Defendant.
LAWRENCE D. HASSELER, ESQ., BENIL ABRAHAM, SPECIAL AUSA .
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
Seward Woodrow ("Plaintiff") commenced this action
on January 5, 2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
and 1383(c)(3), seeking review of a decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (the
"Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application
for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
("DIB"). See Dkt. No. 1.
date of birth is August 7, 1960, and he was forty-eight years
old on January 3, 2009, the alleged onset of his disability.
See Dkt. No. 9, Administrative Transcript
("T."), at 268. Plaintiff is seeking a closed
period of disability from February 23, 2011 through December
31, 2013. See Id. At the disability hearings,
Plaintiff testified that his daily activities were limited to
listening to music at a low volume and playing computer
games. See Id. at 78-79. He was not resting or
napping during the day, and he was not suffering from any
side effects from his medications. See Id. at 47,
76. Plaintiff read the newspaper and watched television every
day. See Id. at 299.
is able take care of his personal needs on a daily basis,
except that he shaves once a week. See Id. at 76,
296-97. He walked with the assistance of a cane and estimated
that he could walk 160 feet total, stopping halfway to rest.
See Id. at 77. Plaintiff was able to do laundry,
wash dishes, and cook in a crock pot or grill. See
Id. at 78. His father assisted him with grocery shopping
by lifting the bags. See Id. During this period of
disability, Plaintiff was not able to participate in hunting
and fishing due to his impairments. See Id.
According to Plaintiff, he does not leave the house or
socialize except to go to his doctor's appointments.
See Id. at 79. However, Plaintiff had a girlfriend
in this period of time, and he maintained a relationship with
her. See Id. at 87. He also transported her to do
laundry and grocery shop. See Id. at 87.
first hearing, Plaintiff testified that he is not able to
work because he suffers from pain in his back and legs.
See Id. at 70. The pain, as described by Plaintiff,
was present twenty-four hours a day. See Id. at 296.
He also had difficulty seeing in the morning when he woke up,
which required the use of medications. See Id. at
72, 84. Plaintiff suffered from shortness of breath, which
required the use of an inhaler, and, at the time of the
second hearing, Plaintiff was also using a nebulizer twice a
day. See Id. at 44. In his own assessment, Plaintiff
can lift less than ten pounds, sit for 15-20 minutes, and
stand for a couple of hours with a cane. See Id. at
76-77. At the second disability hearing, Plaintiff testified
that his "whole body goes numb and [he] falls down,
" and he was then only able to sit for five minutes
before he had to stand and could only stand for twenty
minutes. Id. at 41-42, 49. In addition to his
alleged physical impairments, Plaintiff claimed that he
suffer from "a lot of mental problems, " including
panic attacks and depression. 74-75. In his testimony,
Plaintiff stated that he was not able to finish things that
he starts, his memory was failing him, and he does not have
any energy. See Id. at 75. Plaintiff notes that he
is able to follow written and spoken instructions. See
Id. at 302.
was married but separated from his spouse since 2007. See
Id. at 67. He shared a residence that is owned by his
roommate, and he received rent checks and food stamps from
social services. See Id. at 68. Plaintiff has a
driver's license, and he was able to drive himself
independently when he went out. See Id. at 298-99.
His roommate paid for Plaintiff's car insurance and
allowed him to use one of his vehicles. See Id. at
82. Plaintiff was able to pay bills, count change, and manage
his savings account. See Id. at 299. Plaintiff has
an adult daughter and grandchildren, and he saw his
grandchildren periodically. See Id. at 49, 83-84.
Plaintiff completed his education in ninth grade, and he did
not ever obtain a high school equivalency degree. See
Id. at 84. He has not completed any vocational training.
recently, Plaintiff was a drillers assistant, working in
mines, for Boart Longyear Company. See Id. at
242-44, 273. He worked in that position from 1995 through
1999 and from 2001 through 2008, along with other jobs.
See Id. In that position, Plaintiff worked
twelve-hour shifts and had to lift a maximum of 250 pounds.
See Id. at 69. Also in Plaintiff's past relevant
work history, he worked in quarries and a paper mill. See
Id. at 70, 242-44. In those positions, Plaintiff also
performed a lot of lifting. See Id. Plaintiff had
not ever had a sedentary job. See id. at 70.
Plaintiff worked until January 3, 2009 when he stopped due to
his impairments. See Id. at 272.
February 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed applications for a period
of disability and DIB. See Id. at 238-41, 268. The
application was initially denied on June 24, 2011. See
Id. at 91, 126-29. Plaintiff then requested a hearing by
an administrative law judge. See Id. at 130. A
hearing was conducted on September 27, 2012 before
Administrative Law Judge John P. Ramos (the "ALJ").
See Id. at 62-90. The ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision to Plaintiff, dated October 23, 2012. See
Id. at 98-117. Plaintiff filed a request for review of a
hearing decision with the Appeals Council. See Id.
at 184. The Appeals Council issued an order remanding
Plaintiff's claim back to the ALJ to obtain evidence from
a vocational expert to clarify the effect of the assessed
limitations on Plaintiff's occupational base. See
Id. at 122-24. A second hearing was held via
video-teleconference, on September 4, 2014, before the ALJ.
See Id. ...