United States District Court, N.D. New York
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
WILLIAM G. YOUNG, D.J. 
Preston ("Preston") brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1. She
challenges the decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (the "Commissioner") to deny Preston's
application for Social Security disability benefits, arguing
that the decision has legal error and does not have
substantial support in the record. Compl. ¶¶ 1,
13-14. The Commissioner argues that her decision has
substantial support and ought be affirmed. Def.'s Br.
Pursuant Gen. Order. No. 18. ("Def.'s Mem.") 1,
ECF No. 11. Upon review of the record, this Court concludes
that the hearing officer did not properly explain the weight
accorded to a treating physician's opinion. Accordingly,
this Court remands to the hearing officer for reevaluation of
the weight to accord that medical evidence.
March 26, 2012, Preston applied for disability and disability
insurance benefits, as well as supplemental security income.
Admin. R. 22, ECF No. 7-2. Preston's applications were denied
and she timely requested a hearing. Id. at 18-19.
After a video hearing on November 11, 2013, the hearing
officer denied Preston's application.
Id. at 22, 31.
subsequently appealed to the Appeals Council of the Social
Security Administration; her appeal was denied. Id.
at 1. Preston then sought judicial review of the hearing
officer's decision in this Court, Compl. ¶ 1,
eventually filing a motion for judgment on the pleadings,
Mot. J. Pleadings, ECF No. 9. Both parties briefed the
issues. Mem. Law Supp. PL's Mot. J. Pleadings
("Pl's Mem."), ECF No. 10; Def.'s Mem. On
January 31, 2017, this Court heard oral
arguments from both parties and took the matter
under advisement. Jan. 31, 2017 Minute Entry.
is an unemployed, 32-year-old woman. Admin. R. 50, 194. She
has a 10th grade education and work experience as a deli
assistant and home health aide. Id. at 47, 50. She
is unmarried and lives with her two young children.
Id. at 45, 50.
reports that back pain requires her to be sedentary most of
the day. Id. at 47, 275. She independently performs
activities such as shopping, driving, going to church, light
cooking, and laundry. Id. at 55-56, 275-79. She also
uses a computer to update her Facebook page. Id. at
53. Preston receives some assistance from her mother, sister,
and boyfriend, especially in helping care for the children.
Id. at 54-5.
Back Pain and Scoliosis
child, Preston suffered from scoliosis and had metal rods
permanently installed in her spine. Id. at 48-49,
370. She continues to suffer from scoliosis, as revealed by
MRIs of her lower spine. See, e.g., id. at
378. Some MRI reports, however, reveal only "mild"
spinal disfigurement. See, e.g., id. at
378, 381, 409.
treating physician, Dr. George Jobson ("Dr.
Jobson"), treated Preston over a number of years. On
July 17, 2008, Preston first consulted Dr. Jobson regarding
severe, chronic back pain. Id. at 370. This pain
continued through 2009 and prevented Preston from working.
Id. at 371. From 2010 to 2012, Preston continued to
see Dr. Jobson for pain management. Id. Dr. Jobson
referred Preston to various specialists for further diagnosis
and treatment. See, e.g., id. at 407, 410,
January 23, 2012, Dr. Jobson wrote a letter opining that
Preston [wa]s "permanently disabled" and
"[could ]not work in any capacity." Id. at
426. That same day, Dr. Jobson completed a New York state
disability assessment form on Preston's behalf.
Id. at 424-25. He wrote that Preston could not lift,
pull, or push any object weighing over 20 pounds and could
not stand for over 20 minutes. Id. at 425.
January 31, 2012, Dr. Jobson opined that Preston suffered
from "Scoliosis, " "Keratoconus, "
"compressed nerves in the back/spine, " and
"Fibromyalgia." Id. at 427. Consequently,
he stated Preston "w[ould] be unable to work for at
least one year. She ha[d] been unable to work since
Jobson completed another disability report for Preston on
April 20, 2012. Id. at 441-46. In this report, Dr.
Jobson opined that Preston had the capacity to sit for up to
four hours and to stand for up to one hour, per eight hour
day. Id. at 443. He also stated that Preston
occasionally could lift or carry up to ten pounds.
Id. at 444.
Jobson wrote another report on May 29, 2012. Id. at
501-08. He opined that Preston had no limitation in sitting
and could stand for up to two hours per day. Id. at
505. Dr. Jobson also stated that ...