Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Chapman v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 27, 2017

ANGELA CHAPMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. FRANK P. GERACI, JR. Chief Judge United States District Court

         Plaintiff Angela Chapman (“Chapman”) brought this action under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”).[1] ECF No. 1. Chapman has asked this Court to review the Commissioner of Social Security's (“the Commissioner”) decision denying her application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). This Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3).

         Both parties have moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. ECF Nos. 9, 11. For the reasons that follow, the Commissioner's motion is DENIED and Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 13, 2012, Chapman protectively applied for SSI with the Social Security Administration (“the SSA”). Tr.[2] 158-164, 173. In her application, Chapman alleged that she became disabled on October 1, 2010. Tr. 158, 199. She alleged that her disability resulted from fibromyalgia, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, and depression. Tr. 199. At the initial administrative level, the SSA denied Chapman's application. Tr. 84-92. Following that decision, Administrative Law Judge John P. Ramos (“the ALJ”) considered Chapman's application de novo. Tr. 37-51. On April 2, 2014, the ALJ held a hearing (Tr. 56-83), and on June 20, 2014, he found that Chapman was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 40-51. That finding became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals Council denied Chapman's request for review. Tr. 1-4. On September 2, 2015, Chapman initiated this action. ECF No. 1.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         I. District Court Review

         “In reviewing a final decision of the SSA, this Court is limited to determining whether the SSA's conclusions were supported by substantial evidence in the record and were based on a correct legal standard.” Talavera v. Astrue, 697 F.3d 145, 151 (2d Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). A decision by the Commissioner is “conclusive” under the Act if it is supported by substantial evidence. 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) (internal quotation marks omitted). It is not this Court's function to “determine de novo whether [the claimant] is disabled.” Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1998) (internal quotation marks omitted).

         II. Disability Determination

         An ALJ must follow a five-step sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. First, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful work activity. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(i). If so, the claimant is not disabled. Id. If not, the ALJ proceeds to the second step and determines whether the claimant has an impairment, or combination of impairments, that is “severe” within the meaning of the Act, meaning that it imposes significant restrictions on the claimant's ability to perform basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(ii). If the claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments, the analysis concludes with a finding of “not disabled.” Id. If the claimant does, the ALJ continues to the third step.

         At step three, the ALJ examines whether a claimant's impairment meets or medically equals the criteria of a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 of the regulations (“the Listings”). If the impairment meets or medically equals the criteria of a Listing and meets the durational requirement (20 C.F.R. § 416.909), the claimant is disabled. If not, the ALJ determines the claimant's residual functional capacity (“RFC”), which is the ability to perform physical or mental work activities on a sustained basis, notwithstanding limitations for the collective impairments. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(1). The ALJ then proceeds to the fourth step and determines whether the claimant's RFC permits him or her to perform the requirements of his or her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant can perform such requirements, then he or she is not disabled. Id.

         If the claimant cannot perform the requirements of his or her past work, the ALJ proceeds to the fifth and final step. There the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant is not disabled. Bush v. Shalala, 94 F.3d 40, 44-45 (2d Cir. 1996). To do so, the Commissioner must present evidence to demonstrate that the claimant “retains a residual functional capacity to perform alternative substantial gainful work” in light of his or her age, education, and work experience. See Rosa v. Callahan, 168 F.3d 72, 77 (2d Cir. 1999) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also 20 C.F.R. § 416.960(c)(1). To find that the claimant is not disabled, the ALJ must be satisfied that a significant number of jobs which the claimant can perform exist in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. § 416.960(c)(2).

         DISCUSSION

         I. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ's decision analyzed Chapman's application for benefits under the process described above. Tr. 40-51. At step one, the ALJ found that Chapman had not engaged in substantially gainful activity since September 13, 2012. Tr. 42. At step two, the ALJ found that Chapman suffers from four severe impairments: fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder. Tr. 42-44.

         At step three, the ALJ found that none of Chapman's impairments, alone or combined, meet or medically equal any impairment in the Listings. Tr. 44-46. For that reason, the ALJ proceeded to determine Chapman's RFC. Tr. 46. In doing so, the ALJ considered Chapman's testimony about her impairments, the objective medical evidence, and the opinions of five doctors. Tr. 46-49. Before crediting the doctors' opinions, the ALJ assessed what weight to give them. Tr. 48-49. He gave the opinions of Justine Magurno, M.D., a consulting physician, and Sara Long, Ph.D., a consulting psychologist, who each examined Chapman once, “significant weight.” Tr. 48. Likewise, he gave the opinions of V. Reddy, Ph.D., a state agency psychologist who examined Chapman's medical records, “significant weight.” Tr. 48. Conversely, he gave the opinions of Nadanaguru Akila, M.D., ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.