United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.
by counsel, Arcadio Vargas, Jr. (“Plaintiff”)
instituted this action pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the
Social Security Act (“the Act”), seeking review
of the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security (“the Commissioner”)denying his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). This Court has jurisdiction over the
matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c).
protectively filed concurrent applications for DIB and SSI on
January 31, 2012. After these applications were denied,
Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was scheduled to be held
by administrative law judge Joseph L. Brinkley (“the
ALJ”) on December 4, 2013. However, the hearing was
postponed to give Plaintiff the opportunity to obtain a
representative. Plaintiff was unable to find representation,
and the hearing was held on May 6, 2014.
(T.35-114). On August 14, 2014, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision. (T.14-34). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on January 6, 2016, making
the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (T.1-4). This timely action followed.
parties have cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court adopts and incorporates by reference
herein the undisputed and comprehensive factual summaries
contained in the parties' briefs. The record will be
discussed in more detail below as necessary to the resolution
of this appeal. For the reasons that follow, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
followed the five-step procedure established by the
Commissioner for evaluating disability claims. See
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. At the first step,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following
“severe” impairments: Raynaud's disease,
degenerative disc disease, mechanical instability of the left
patella, bilateral leg/neck/back pain, major depressive
disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and
a learning disability. (T.19-20).
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's severe impairments,
considered singly or in combination, do not meet or equal one
of the impairments listed in the Listings, 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix I. (T.19-21). The ALJ gave
particular consideration to Listings 1.02, 1.04, 4.00, 11.00,
12.02, 12.04, 12.06, and 14.00.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff as having
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform a range of light work, with some modifications to the
physical and mental demands of such work. Specifically,
Plaintiff can sit, stand, and walk each independently for up
to one (1) hour at a time without interruption and without
the need to rest in between positions; can sit for a total of
six (6) hours in an eight-hour workday with interruptions and
regularly scheduled breaks; can stand and walk for a combined
total of three (3) hours with interruptions and regularly
scheduled breaks; can frequently use his upper extremities to
handle, finger, grasp, and feel bilaterally; can occasionally
reach and lift overhead with his upper extremities,
bilaterally; can occasionally operate foot and leg controls
with his lower extremities, bilaterally; can occasionally
climb ramps or stairs, balance, kneel, and stoop; should
never crawl, crouch, or climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
must avoid even moderate exposure to bright, flashing lights
and more than fluorescent lighting; and must avoid
concentrated exposure to wetness, vibrations, extreme hot or
cold temperatures, and workplace hazards including
unprotected heights, dangerous machinery, and uneven terrain.
Additionally, Plaintiff is limited to performing unskilled,
simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; although he can
frequently engage in superficial contact with the general
public. Finally, he is limited to low-stress work that does
not require high-volume production quotas or fast-paced
assembly lines. (T.21).
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform his
past relevant work of building superintendent, delivery
driver, or painter, all of which were medium exertion jobs.
five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of the VE, who stated
that a person of Plaintiff's age (40 years-old at the
time of the hearing) and having his RFC, education, and
vocational profile, could perform work a surveillance system
monitor (D.O.T. 379.367-010, svp 2, sedentary), of which
there were greater than 20, 000 jobs in the national economy,
and greater than 500 jobs in the state economy). ...