United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.
Sandra Maciejewski (“plaintiff”) brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), claiming that
Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, the Acting Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner” or
“defendant”), improperly denied her applications
for social security disability insurance (“SSDI”)
and supplemental security income (“SSI”).
Currently before the Court are the parties' competing
motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
December 21, 2016, Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio issued
a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) (Docket
No. 13) recommending that plaintiff's motion be denied
and that defendant's motion be granted.
reasons set forth below, the Court adopts the R&R in part
and rejects the R&R in part. Specifically, the Court
adopts the portion of the R&R finding that defendant
violated the treating physician rule and rejects the portion
of the R&R holding that plaintiff has the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary
work and is thus not disabled. The Court agrees with and
grants plaintiff's motion remanding this matter to the
Commissioner for further administrative proceedings.
Accordingly, the Commissioner's motion is denied.
filed her applications for SSDI and SSI on March 14, 2011 and
April 4, 2011, respectively. Administrative Transcript
(“T.”) 55, 118-128. Plaintiff alleged that she
became disabled on March 1, 2010, as a result of diabetes,
high blood pressure, anemia, asthma, arthritis, weakness in
her hands, leg swelling, obesity, and depression. T. 165
Plaintiff's applications were initially denied. T. 55,
68-75. At plaintiff's request, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) William E. Straub conducted a hearing on
June 21, 2012. T. 31-54. On November 20, 2012, the ALJ issued
a decision denying plaintiff's claim for benefits. T.
applying the required five-step sequential analysis, as
contained in the administrative regulations promulgated by
the Social Security Administration ("SSA")
(see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920;
Lynch v. Astrue, 2008 WL 3413899, at *2 (W.D.N.Y.
2008) (detailing the five steps)), the ALJ made the following
findings, among others: (1) plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through March 30,
2015; (2) plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 1, 2010; (3) plaintiff's diabetes
mellitus, hypertension, asthma, and obesity were severe
impairments; (4) plaintiff's impairments did not meet or
medically equal one of the listed impairments set forth in 20
C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; (5) plaintiff had
the RFC to perform the full range of medium work as defined
in 20 CFR 404.157(c); and (6) plaintiff was able to perform
her past relevant work as a supervisor. T. 17-26.
4, 2014, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request
for review, making the ALJ's determination the
Commissioner's final decision. T. 1-4. Plaintiff then
commenced this action.
U.S.C. § 405(g) grants jurisdiction to district courts
to hear claims based on the denial of Social Security
benefits. Section 405(g) provides that the District Court
“shall have the power to enter, upon the pleadings and
transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or
reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security, with or without remanding the cause for a
rehearing.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2007). When
considering such a claim, the Court must accept the findings
of fact made by the Commissioner, provided that such findings
are supported by “substantial evidence” in the
record. 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) (quotation omitted).
determining whether the Commissioner's findings are
supported by substantial evidence, the Court's task is
“‘to examine the entire record, including
contradictory evidence and evidence from which conflicting
inferences can be drawn.'” Brown v. Apfel,
174 F.3d 59, 62 (2d Cir. 1999) (quoting Mongeur v.
Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1038 (2d Cir. 1983)). Section
405(g) limits the scope of the Court's review to two
inquiries: whether the Commissioner's findings were
supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole
and whether the Commissioner's conclusions were based
upon the correct legal standard. See Green-Younger v.
Barnhart, 335 F.3d 99, 105-106 (2d Cir. 2003).
respect to the Court's review of the R&R, when
specific objections are made to a magistrate judge's
report and recommendation, the district judge makes a
“de novo determination of those portions of
the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations
to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(C). When no objections or only general objections
are made, the district judge reviews the report and
recommendation for clear error or manifest injustice.
E.g., DiPilato v. 7-Eleven, Inc., 662 F.Supp.2d 333,
339 (S.D.N.Y. 2009). After conducting the appropriate review,