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Kanasola v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 10, 2017

JOHN KANASOLA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMM'R OF SOC. SEC., Defendant.

          LAW OFFICES OF STEVEN R. DOLSON STEVEN R. DOLSON, ESQ. Counsel for Plaintiff

          U.S. 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.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff 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.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff 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.[1] 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.)[2] On January 20, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-4.)

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         Generally, 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.)

         D. The Parties' Briefings on Their Cross-Motions

         Generally, 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 ...


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