United States District Court, N.D. New York
A. EGHIGIAN, ESQ., for Plaintiff.
ARIELLA R. ZOLTAN, SPECIAL ASS'T. U.S. ATTORNEY, for
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Andrew T. Baxter 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, 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. Nos. 4, 7).
Cynthia Ann Camarata filed an application for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) payments on behalf of her
daughter, C.R.C., on October 4, 2013. (Administrative
Transcript (“T.”) at 222, 366-72).
Plaintiff's application was initially denied on December
6, 2013, and she made a timely request for a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (T. 240-48,
293-300). The hearing, at which C.R.C. appeared with
plaintiff and legal counsel, was conducted by ALJ Julia D.
Gibbs on October 7, 2014. (T. 67-92).
October 17, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding that
C.R.C. was not disabled from the date of the application
through the date of her decision. (T. 219-37). The ALJ's
decision became the Commissioner's final decision when
the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review
on May 24, 2016. (T. 1-7).
ISSUES IN CONTENTION
makes the following arguments:
(1) The Appeals Council failed to adequately consider new
evidence related to C.R.C.'s mental impairments.
(Pl.'s Br. at 5-7) (Dkt. No. 14).
(2) The ALJ's credibility finding regarding C.R.C.'s
testimony was not supported by substantial evidence.
(Pl.'s Br. at 7-8).
argues that the complaint should be dismissed, because the
Appeals Council adequately considered the new evidence, and
the Commissioner's decision was supported by substantial
evidence. (Def.'s Br. at 4-14) (Dkt. No. 15). For the
reasons stated below, this court agrees with the defendant
and will dismiss the complaint. To the extent that
plaintiff's new evidence documents a worsening of
C.R.C.'s impairments since the ALJ's October 17, 2014
decision, the proper remedy is for plaintiff to submit a new
application for benefits on C.R.C.'s behalf.
court will only briefly summarize the medical, educational,
and other evidence, which is set forth at length in
plaintiff's brief (Pl.'s Br. at 2-6) and in the
ALJ's decision. (T. 226-32). Further relevant details are
discussed below in the course of analyzing the issues
disputed by the parties.
C.R.C. is a female child, born in December 2001, who resided
with her mother at all times relevant to this proceeding. (T.
225, 363). In September 2013, C.R.C. was involved in a
rollover accident while riding an All Terrain Vehicle
(“ATV”), and suffered the traumatic amputation of
her left hand. (T. 267, 461). Efforts to reattach her hand
were unsuccessful, but she was fitted with a prosthesis. (T.
469). After missing significant time due to her injury and
rehabilitation, C.R.C. returned to school. (T. 286). On the
date of the hearing, she was in the seventh grade. (T. 26).
hearing, C.R.C. testified that she was right handed, but had
difficulties with many tasks due to the loss of her left
hand, despite the prosthesis. (T. 268-83). These activities
of daily living included dressing herself, styling her hair,
tying her shoes, cutting food, opening jars, turning pages in
a book or examination packet, and carrying books at school.
(T. 267-77). C.R.C.'s mother testified that these
difficulties continued even after her daughter was fitted
with a more advanced “i-limb” prosthesis,
because C.R.C. was often unable to access
the wireless internet signal necessary to manipulate this new
prosthetic hand. (T. 291). C.R.C. had also been seeing a
counselor for the past year to help with the anger and
depression stemming from her injury. (T. 283, 502-503).
April 2015, approximately six months after the ALJ's
decision, C.R.C. was hospitalized for an emergency
psychiatric evaluation after she told her mother that she had
suicidal thoughts. (T. 169). C.R.C. was hospitalized again in
October 2015 after posting statements on social media about
committing suicide. (T. 65). She reported that she had
previously tried to choke or hang herself, and had engaged in
self-cutting. (T. 59, 65). C.R.C. received in-patient
psychiatric treatment, and continued to take prescribed
psychiatric medication upon discharge. (T. 10-13). At the
time of this treatment, plaintiff's request for review of
the ALJ's decision was still pending before the Appeals
Council. (T. 2).