United States District Court, W.D. New York
the Plaintiff: Lesa Wright, pro se.
the Defendant: David L. Brown Social Security Administration
Office of General Counsel, Kathryn L. Smith, A.U.S.A. Office
of the United States Attorney for the Western District of New
DECISION AND ORDER
CHARLES J. SIRAGUSA United States District Judge.
an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
review the final determination of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner” or
“Defendant”), which denied the application of
Lesa Wright (“Plaintiff”) for Supplemental
Security Income Benefits. Now before the Court is
Defendant's motion (Docket No. [#10]) for judgment on the
pleadings. Oral argument had been scheduled to be heard on
August 3, 2017. However, Plaintiff defaulted in responding to
Defendant's motion, and the Court is therefore cancelling
oral argument and issuing its decision. Defendant's
application is granted and this action is dismissed.
reader is presumed to be Defendant's motion [#10], which
contains a recitation of the pertinent facts. The Court has
reviewed the administrative record [#8] and will reference it
only as necessary to explain this Decision and Order.
claims to be disabled due to both physical and mental
impairments, but it is clear that the physical impairments
are not disabling in and of themselves, and merely limit the
exertional level at which Plaintiff can work. In that regard,
Plaintiff claims to have significant pain in her left
shoulder, from a healed fracture. Plaintiff treats the pain
with Ibuprofen as needed. (53). Plaintiff maintains that the
shoulder pain limits her ability to lift the left arm above
her head or to use it repetitively. (55). Medical opinion
evidence indicates that Plaintiff has a moderate limitation
on pushing, pulling, lifting and reaching involving the left
shoulder. (236-239). Plaintiff also has diabetes that she
treats with medication, diet and exercise. During her
consultative internal medication examination, Plaintiff
reportedly “denie[d] any complications from
main thrust of Plaintiff disability claim is her contention
that non-exertional impairments limit her ability to work.
More specifically, Plaintiff claims to suffer from depression
and anxiety, for which she takes Paxil. (53). Plaintiff
contends that the Paxil causes her to feel fatigued. (56,
57). Plaintiff contends that the depression, anxiety and
fatigue limit her ability to concentrate, and require her to
take a nap after any period of prolonged concentration.
Plaintiff further claims that she has difficulty getting
along with people. (58).
September 24, 2014, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which
Plaintiff appeared by herself and waived her right to have an
attorney. (49). The issue before the ALJ was whether
Plaintiff was disabled at any time between May 28, 2013 (the
date that the SSI application was filed) and the date of his
decision. Plaintiff's treatment records,
covering the period 2011-2014, were sparse, and consisted
primarily of office notes from her visits to her primary care
physician, for monitoring of her diabetes and other routine
matters. Plaintiff was prescribed Paxil for anxiety
and depression during that period, but did not seek mental
health counseling or other treatment. Plaintiff indicates
that she had previously received counseling between
2006-2008, and did not find it helpful.
only medical source opinions were from a consulting internist
and a consulting psychologist, each of whom examined
Plaintiff once, and a non-examining agency review physician.
None of these medical source opinions indicated that
Plaintiff was unable to work. The consulting internist,
Harbinder Toor, M.D. (“Toor”), reported that
Plaintiff engaged in normal activities of daily living, such
as cooking, cleaning, shopping and providing childcare.
(237). The consultative psychologist, Yu-Ling Lin, Ph.D.
(“Dr. Lin”), noted that Plaintiff's
“manner of relating was poor, ” that her affect
and mood were “irritable, ” and that she had
stated, in response to being asked to perform a certain test
of attention and concentration, that she “was not in
the mood to perform the task.” (243). The psychologist
indicated that Plaintiff was “markedly limited in
relating adequately with others and [in] dealing with
stress.” (244). On this point, the psychologist
commented that Plaintiff's “difficulties are caused
by a lack of motivation and stress-related problems.”
(244). The psychologist further opined that while
Plaintiff's examination results were “consistent
with psychiatric problems, ” those problems did
“not appear to be significant enough to interfere with
[her] ability to function on a daily basis.” (244).
gave “significant weight” to the medical
opinions, and found, with regard to exertional limitations,
that Plaintiff could perform light work, except that she
could not engage in “overhead reaching” with her
left arm. (15). With regard to non-exertional impairments,
the ALJ found, inter alia, that Plaintiff could
perform simple unskilled work (with breaks every two hours),
requiring only “routine, superficial” contact
with co-workers during 1/3 of the workday or less, and
further requiring no contact with the public. (15). Overall,
applying the familiar five-step sequential analysis used to
evaluate disability claims, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
could not perform any past relevant work, but that she could
perform other jobs, such as “Inspector, ” DOT
559.687-074, and “Packager, ” DOT 753.687-038.
(18). Consequently, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's
application for SSI benefits.
appealed, alleging only that “a lot of the [ALJ's]
statements” were “lies [that were] not
true.” (6). While the appeal was pending, Plaintiff
sent a letter to the Appeals Council, indicating that her
diabetes condition had worsened. The Appeals Council declined
to review the ALJ's determination.
March 10, 2016, Plaintiff filed the subject action,
proceeding pro se. Plaintiff's Complaint [#1]
does not indicate why she believes that the
Commissioner's determination is incorrect. On March 9,
2017, Defendant filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings,
and on March 14, 2017, the Court issued a Motion Scheduling
Order [#11], directing Plaintiff to file and serve any