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Credle v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 1, 2017

JERRILL M. CREDLE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OFFICE OF PETER MARGOLIUS Counsel for Plaintiff

          U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II Counsel for Defendant

         OF COUNSEL:

          PETER M. MARGOLIUS, ESQ.

          JOSHUA KERSHNER, ESQ.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          William B. Mitchell Carter, U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         This matter was referred to me, for all proceedings and entry of a final judgment, pursuant to the Social Security Pilot Program, N.D.N.Y. General Order No. 18, and in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, N.D.N.Y. Local Rule 73.1 and the consent of the parties. (Dkt. Nos. #, #.).

         Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Jerrill Credle (“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. 9, 14.) For the reasons set forth below, it is ordered that Plaintiff's motion be granted, in the extent it seeks remand under Sentence Four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and Defendant's motion is denied.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born in 1979. (T. 78.) He received a GED. (T. 205.) Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists of post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), personality disorder, and degenerative disc disease. (T. 204.) His alleged disability onset date is May 27, 2014. (T. 76.) His date last insured is December 31, 2018. (Id.) He previously worked as a car washer, cook, in security, and factory worker. (T. 205.)

         B. Procedural History

         On August 12, 2014, Plaintiff applied for a period of Disability Insurance Benefits (“SSD”) under Title II, and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI, of the Social Security Act. (T. 76.) Plaintiff's applications were initially denied, after which he timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”). On April 1, 2015 and again on May 19, 2015, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ, Terence Farrell. (T. 31-61, 62-75.) On July 1, 2015, ALJ Farrell issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 13-30.) On January 12, 2016, 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.

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 18-26.) First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements through December 31, 2018 and Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 27, 2014. (T. 18.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease/degenerative joint disease of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine; lumbar radiculopathy; right shoulder pain; status post left shoulder surgery; bipolar disorder; PTSD; social phobia; and cannabis 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. 20-21.) Fourth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work with additional non-exertional impairments. (T. 21-22.)[1] The ALJ determined that Plaintiff was limited to work with only occasional, brief, and superficial interactions with coworkers and supervisors. (T. 21.) The ALJ determined Plaintiff could occasionally lift, carry, push, and pull 20 pounds; frequently lift, carry, push, and pull 10 pounds; stand for eight hours in a workday with normal breaks, with standing limited to one hour at a time, after which he would need to sit for a few minutes before resuming standing; walk for eight hours in a workday; sit for eight hours in a workday with normal breaks with sitting limited to about one hour at a time, after which he would need to stand or walk a few minutes before resuming sitting; frequently, but not continuously, reach overhead with no limitation in reaching in other directions; occasionally climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds; frequently climb stairs and ramps; could never be exposed to unprotected heights; and could frequently be exposed to moving mechanical parts and vibrations. (T. 21-22.) 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. 25-26.)

         II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

         A. Plaintiff's Arguments

         Plaintiff makes one argument in support of his motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff argues the new and material evidence submitted to the AC warrants changing the ALJ's ...


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