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Brooks v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 1, 2017

WILLIAM ARTHUR BROOKS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

         APPEARANCES:

          OFFICE OF PETER M. MARGOLIUS Counsel for Plaintiff

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

         OF COUNSEL:

          PETER MARGOLIUS, ESQ.

          JOSHUA L. 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. 4, 16.)

         Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by William Arthur Brooks (“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 is denied and Defendant's motion is granted.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born in 1962. (T. 67.) He received his GED. (T. 203.) Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists of mental health impairments, back impairment, and shoulder impairment. (T. 202.) His alleged disability onset date is February 1, 2004. (T. 66.) His date last insured is September 30, 2006. (T. 198.) He previously worked as auto service attendance and dairy farm worker. (T. 203.)

         B. Procedural History

         On March 5, 2013, Plaintiff applied for a period of Disability Insurance Benefits (“SSD”) under Title II, and on March 21, 2013 for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI, of the Social Security Act. (T. 65, 66.) Plaintiff's applications were initially denied, after which he timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”). On November 7, 2014, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ, Robert Wright. (T. 36-64.) On December 8, 2014, ALJ Wright issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 8-25.) On March 15, 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. 13-21.) First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements through September 30, 2006 and Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 1, 2004. (T. 13.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of lumbar degenerative disc disease; osteoarthritis of the bilateral shoulders, left greater than right; anxiety disorder; and depressive disorder. (Id.) The ALJ determined that from February 1, 2004 through September 30, 2006, Plaintiff had no medically determinable impairments. (T. 13-14.) 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. 15-16) Fourth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform unskilled light work[1]; however, Plaintiff could frequently use his upper extremities for fingering, feeling, and handling and occasionally bend, stoop, crouch, crawl, kneel, balance, climb stairs and ramps, reach overhead, and operate foot controls. (T. 19-20.) Further, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could have occasional exposure to vibrations and extremes of heat and cold, never work with unprotected heights, ladders or scaffolds. (T. 20.) 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. 22-23.)

         II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

         A. ...


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