United States District Court, N.D. New York
OLINSKY LAW OFFICE HOWARD D. OLINSKY, ESQ. Counsel for
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. LORIE E. LUPKIN, ESQ. OFFICE OF
REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II Counsel for Defendant
MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER
William B. Mitchell Carter U.S. Magistrate Judge
matter was referred to me, for all proceedings and entry of a
final judgment, pursuant to the Social Security Pilot
Program, N.D.N.Y. General Order No. 18, and in accordance
with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P.
73, N.D.N.Y. Local Rule 73.1 and the consent of the parties.
(Dkt. No. 16.)
before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by
Jennifer Rose Gardenier (“Plaintiff”) against the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or
“the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are the parties'
cross- motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 10,
14.) For the reasons set forth below it is ordered that
Plaintiff's motion be denied and Defendant's motion
was born in 1975. (T. 58.) She completed high school. (T.
144.) Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists
of agoraphobia, depression, fibromyalgia, personality
disorder, anxiety, and a learning disorder. (T. 58.) Her
alleged disability onset date is January 15, 2011. (T. 58.)
Her date last insured is June 30, 2016. (T.
She previously worked as a janitor, an assembly line worker,
and an inspector. (T. 144.)
December 9, 2012, Plaintiff applied for a period of
Disability Insurance Benefits (“SSD”) under Title
II of the Social Security Act. (T. 68.) Plaintiff's
application was initially denied, after which she timely
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“the ALJ”). On April 10, 2014, Plaintiff
appeared before the ALJ, Marie Greener. (T. 32-56.) On July
31, 2014, ALJ Greener issued a written decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T.
16-31.) On November 23, 2015, the Appeals Council
(“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for review,
rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (T. 1-5.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought
judicial review in this Court.
The ALJ's Decision
in her decision, the ALJ made the following findings of fact
and conclusions of law. (T. 21-28.) First, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements through June
30, 2016 and Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 15, 2011. (T. 21.) Second, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of depressive
disorder, an anxiety disorder, and borderline personality
disorder. (T. 22.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did
not have an impairment that meets or medically equals one of
the listed impairments located in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart
P, Appendix. 1. (T. 22-24.) Fourth, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels. (T. 24.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff had
the ability to understand and follow simple instructions and
directions, perform simple tasks with supervision and
independently, maintain attention and concertation for simple
tasks, regularly attend to a routine and maintain a schedule,
relate to and interact appropriately with others in order to
carry our simple tasks, and handle work-related stress in
that she could make decisions directly related to the
performance of simple tasks in a position with consistent job
duties that did not require her to supervise or manage the
work of others. (Id.) Fifth, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff was incapable of performing her past relevant work;
however, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers
in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (T. 27-28.)
THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
A. Plaintiff's Arguments
makes three separate arguments in support of her motion for
judgment on the pleadings. First, Plaintiff argues the ALJ
erred at step two in assessing the severity of
Plaintiff's impairments. (Dkt. No. 10 at 9-11 [Pl.'s
Mem. of Law].) Second, Plaintiff argues the RFC determination
is not supported by substantial evidence. (Id. at
11-14.) Third, and lastly, Plaintiff argues the step five
determination is not supported by substantial evidence.
(Id. at 14-15.)
response, Defendant makes three arguments. First, Defendant
argues the ALJ did not err at step two of the sequential
evaluation. (Dkt. No. 14 at 4-8 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].)
Second, Defendant argues substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's RFC assessment. (Id. at 8-17.) Third, and
lastly, Defendant argues the ALJ correctly relied on the
Medical-Vocational Rules at step five. (Id. at
RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD
A. Standard of Review
reviewing a denial of disability benefits may not determine
de novo whether an individual is disabled. See 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Wagner v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856,
860 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, the Commissioner's
determination will only be reversed if the correct legal
standards were not applied, or it was not supported by
substantial evidence. See Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d
983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987) (“Where there is a reasonable
basis for doubt whether the ALJ applied correct legal
principles, application of the substantial evidence standard
to uphold a finding of no disability creates an unacceptable
risk that a claimant will be deprived of the right to have
her disability determination made according to the correct
legal principles.”); Grey v. Heckler, 721 F.2d
41, 46 (2d Cir. 1983); Marcus v. Califano, 615 F.2d
23, 27 (2d Cir. 1979).
evidence” is evidence that amounts to “more than
a mere scintilla, ” and has been defined as “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427 (1971).
Where evidence is deemed susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, the ...