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Andrisani v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 24, 2017

JONATHAN W. ANDRISANI, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Represented by counsel, Jonathan W. Andrisani (“plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”), seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“the Commissioner”) denying his applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and supplemental security income (“SSI”). The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Presently before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, the Commissioner's motion is granted.

         II. Procedural History

         The record reveals that in November 2013, plaintiff protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging disability as of October 24, 2012. After his applications were denied, plaintiff requested a hearing, which was held before administrative law judge Grenville Harrop, Jr. (“the ALJ”) on June 3, 2014. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on September 19, 2014. The Appeals Council denied review of that decision and this timely action followed.

         III. The ALJ's Decision

         Initially, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Act through December 31, 2014. At step one of the five-step sequential evaluation, see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920, the ALJ found that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 24, 2012, the alleged onset date. At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the severe impairment of mood disorder. At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled a listed impairment.

         Before proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a wide range of medium work, with nonexertional limitations including a “mild impairment . . . in performing complex tasks independently, making appropriate decisions, and relating adequately with others.” T. 14. At step four, the ALJ found that plaintiff had no past relevant work. At step five, the ALJ found that considering plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, jobs existed in the national economy which plaintiff could perform. Accordingly, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled.

         IV. Discussion

         A district court may set aside the Commissioner's determination that a claimant is not disabled only if the factual findings are not supported by “substantial evidence” or if the decision is based on legal error. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see also Green-Younger v. Barnhart, 335 F.3d 99, 105-06 (2d Cir. 2003). “Substantial evidence means ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Shaw v. Chater, 221 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2000).

         A. Failure to Develop the Record

         Plaintiff contends that the ALJ failed to fully develop the record. Specifically, plaintiff argues that the ALJ (1) failed to obtain treatment records from plaintiff's treating counselor, LMSW Leslie Tebo; and (2) failed to obtain clarification of illegible records provided by plaintiff's treating nurse practitioner, NP Gerald Frisicaro. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the ALJ did not fail to properly develop the record.

         The regulations provide that although a claimant is generally responsible for providing evidence upon which to base an RFC assessment, before the Administration makes a disability determination, the ALJ is “responsible for developing [the claimant's] complete medical history, including arranging for a consultative examination(s) if necessary, and making every reasonable effort to help [the claimant] get medical reports from [the claimant's] own medical sources.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545, 416.945 (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(d) through (f); § 416.912(d) through (e)). “Even though the ALJ has an affirmative obligation to develop the record, it is the plaintiff's burden to furnish such medical and other evidence of disability as the Secretary may require.” Long v. Bowen, 1989 WL 83379, *4 (E.D.N.Y. July 17, 1989) (internal citations omitted).

         1. LMSW ...


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