United States District Court, N.D. New York
JOEL R. BUISSERETH, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
STANLEY LAW OFFICES Counsel for Plaintiff U.S. SOCIAL
SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II
Counsel for Defendant
COUNSEL: STEPHANIE VISCELLI, ESQ., VERNON NORWOOD, ESQ.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
William B. Mitchell Carter, U.S. Magistrate Judge
matter was referred for report and recommendation by the
Honorable Judge Suddaby, Chief United States District Judge,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3(d).
(Dkt. No. 16.) This case has proceeded in accordance with
General Order 18.
before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by
Joel R. Buissereth (“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'
cross- motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 10,
15.) For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that
Plaintiff's motion be denied and Defendant's motion
was 42 at the time of the hearing. (T. 804.) He completed the
seventh grade. (T. 805.) Generally, Plaintiff's alleged
disability consists of sleep apnea, breathing disorder, high
blood pressure, diabetes, depression, right shoulder injury,
chest pain, and dizziness. (T. 112.) His alleged disability
onset date is December 10, 2009. (T. 110.) He previously
worked as a forklift operator and security guard. (T. 111.)
September 1, 2010, Plaintiff applied for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act. (T. 66.) Plaintiff's application was
initially denied, after which he timely requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”).
On April 1, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ, Harry E.
Siegrist. (T. 795-824.) On June 23, 2014, ALJ Siegrist issued
a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the
Social Security Act. (T. 11-24.) On October 27, 2015, the
Appeals Council (“AC”) denied Plaintiff's
request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-6.) Thereafter,
Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.
The ALJ's Decision
in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of
fact and conclusions of law. (T. 16-24.) First, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since September 1, 2010. (T. 16.) Second, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
degenerative joint disease of the knees and shoulders, sleep
apnea, unilateral femoral hernia, morbid obesity, history of
low back pain, history of congestive heart failure,
hypertension, psychotic disorder, personality disorder, and
polysubstance abuse. (Id.) 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. 17-19.) Fourth, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work, except he should
never climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch,
or crawl. (T. 19.) Further, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
should avoid all exposure to hazardous machinery and
unprotected heights. (Id.) The ALJ found that
Plaintiff could perform work limited to simple, routine, and
repetitive tasks, and required a low stress job defined as
having no fixed production quotas, involving only simple
work-related decisions with few if any work place changes,
and he could have only occasional interaction with the public
and co-workers. (Id.) Fifth, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff was incapable of performing his past relevant work;
however, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers
in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (T. 23-24.)
THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
makes three separate arguments in support of his motion for
judgment on the pleadings. First, Plaintiff argues the
ALJ's RFC determination was the product of legal error
and not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 10 at
6-9 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiff argues the
ALJ did not evaluate Plaintiff's subjective statements in
accordance with the relevant legal standards. (Id.
at 9-12.) Third, and lastly, Plaintiff argues the ALJ did not
meet his burden at step five because the hypothetical
question posed to the vocational expert (“VE”)
did not represent an accurate and complete description of
Plaintiff's limitations. (Id. at 12-13.)