United States District Court, N.D. New York
OFFICES OF STEVEN R. DOLSON STEVEN R. DOLSON, ESQ. Counsel
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. LAUREN E. MYERS, ESQ. OFFICE OF
REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II Counsel for Defendant
DECISION AND ORDER
THERESE WILEY DANCKS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action
filed by John Kanasola (“Plaintiff”) against the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or
“the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are Plaintiff's
motion for judgment on the pleadings and Defendant's
motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 11.) For
the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for
judgment on the pleadings is denied and Defendant's
motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted. The
Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiff's
disability benefits is affirmed, and Plaintiff's
Complaint is dismissed.
was born in 1975, making him 37 years old at the amended
alleged onset date and 39 years old at the date of the final
Social Security Administration (“SSA”) decision.
Plaintiff has a 12th grade education and past work
as an auto and truck mechanic. Plaintiff was insured for
disability benefits under Title II until December 31, 2012.
Generally, Plaintiff alleges disability consisting of knee
pain, back pain, and bilateral hand pain.
applied for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits and Title
XVI Supplemental Security Income on April 25, 2013. Plaintiff
initially alleged disability beginning January 1, 2008, but
later amended the alleged onset date to April 9,
2013. Plaintiff's application was initially
denied on June 26, 2013, after which he timely requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Plaintiff appeared at a video hearing
before ALJ Hortensia Haaversen on April 17, 2014. On October
15, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff
not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T.
13-21.) On January 20, 2016, the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
The ALJ's Decision
in her decision, the ALJ made the following six findings of
fact and conclusions of law. (T. 13-21.) First, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 25, 2013, the amended alleged onset
date. (T. 15.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's
bilateral chondromalacia patellae, degenerative signal medial
meniscus of the right knee, degenerative changes of the
lumbosacral spine, and acute gout are severe impairments,
while his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
hyperlipidemia, gastritis, and obesity are not severe. (T.
15-16.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's severe
impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, App. 1 (the
“Listings”). (T. 16.) More specifically, the ALJ
considered Listing 1.02 (major dysfunction of a joint) and
1.04 (spinal impairments). (Id.) Fourth, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except that the
claimant can stand or walk for two hours in an eight-hour
workday. The claimant can sit for at least six hours of an
eight-hour workday, but for no more than an hour at a time.
(T. 16.) Fifth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to
perform his past work based on the restrictions in the RFC.
(T. 19.) Sixth, and finally, the ALJ determined that there
are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff can perform, including telephone order
clerk for a food and beverage establishment, dispatcher, and
telephone answering service. (T. 20-21.)
The Parties' Briefings on Their Cross-Motions
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ committed harmful error of law
in failing to afford controlling weight to the opinion of
treating physician Richard Sullivan, M.D. (Dkt. No.9, at 6-8
[Pl. Mem. of Law].) Plaintiff argues that Dr. Sullivan's
opinion is “well-supported by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques, ”
including the objective imaging reports and his own treatment
observations. (Dkt. No. 9, at 6-7 [Pl. Mem. of Law].)
Plaintiff also argues that, even if Dr. Sullivan's
opinion is not entitled to controlling weight, the ALJ erred
in failing to “explicitly and comprehensively discuss
all of the factors outlined ...