United States District Court, N.D. New York
OFFICES OF STEVEN R. DOLSON Counsel for Plaintiff
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL -
REGION II Counsel for Defendant
R. DOLSON, ESQ.
M. GROSSFELD, ESQ.
DECISION AND ORDER
Christian F. Hummel U.S. Magistrate Judge.
before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by
Evelyn Dittmar (“Plaintiff”) against the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or
“the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), are Plaintiff's motion for judgment
on the pleadings and Defendant's motion for judgment on
the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 20.) For the reasons set forth
below, Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings
is granted in part and denied in part, and Defendant's
motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied in part and
granted in part.
was born in 1971, making her 38 years old at her alleged
onset date and 43 years old at the date last insured.
Plaintiff has a 12th grade education and she reported past
work as a bus monitor, personal care assistant, kitchen aide,
and retail clerk. Generally, Plaintiff alleges disability
consisting of arthritis in her hands and knees, depression,
thyroid problems, claustrophobia, diabetes, nerve damage in
her right hand, and hypertension.
applied for Disability Insurance Benefits on November 27,
2012. (T. 131) Plaintiff's application was initially
denied on April 22, 2013, after which she timely requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). (T. 94) Plaintiff appeared at a hearing
before ALJ Michelle S. Marcus on July 17, 2014. (T. 34). On
January 5, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T.
12-26.) On March 23, 2016, the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”). (T. 1-3, 6-8.)
The ALJ's Decision
in her decision, the ALJ made the following seven findings of
fact and conclusions of law. (T. 14-25.) First, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was insured for disability benefits under
Title II until December 31, 2014. (T. 14.) Second, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 9, 2009, the alleged onset date.
(Id.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's left
hamstring tendonitis, left knee arthritis with meniscal tear,
status-post carpal tunnel release surgery, status-post fusion
in the first metacarpal joint of the left thumb, and morbid
obesity are severe impairments, while her hypertension,
asthma, hypothyroidism, diabetes, depression, anxiety,
adjustment disorder, and pain disorder are not severe
impairments. (T. 14-15.) Fourth, 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. 17.) More
specifically, the ALJ considered Listing 1.00
(musculoskeletal impairments) and 1.02 (major dysfunction of
a joint). (Id.) Fifth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except the
claimant could stand and walk, in combination, a total of six
hours in an eight-hour day, for one hour at a time
continuously. Sit six hours per day, lift and carry 10 pounds
continuously and 20 pounds occasionally. She had unrestricted
use of right upper extremity and could occasionally handle,
finger, feel, and push pull with left upper extremity, but
was unrestricted for reaching. She could occasionally climb
stairs and ramps, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. No