United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, United States District Judge
by counsel, plaintiff Ricardo Sampel
(“plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to the
Social Security Act (the “Act”), seeking review
of the final decision of defendant the Acting Commissioner of
Social Security (the “Commissioner” or
“defendant”) denying his application for
supplemental security income (“SSI”). The Court
has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Presently before the Court are the
parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's
motion is granted to the extent that this case is remanded to
the Commissioner for further administrative proceedings
consistent with this Decision and Order, and the
Commissioner's motion is denied.
protectively filed an application for SSI on April 7, 2011,
which was denied. Administrative Transcript
(“T.”) 112, 161-68. At plaintiff's request, a
hearing was held before administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) Connor O'Brien on October 22, 2012.
T. 30-112. In a decision dated April 3, 2013, ALJ O'Brien
found that plaintiff was not disabled as defined in the Act
and denied his claim. T. 10-29. On August 19, 2013, the
Appeals Council issued an order denying plaintiff's
request for review, thereby rendering ALJ O'Brien's
decision the Commissioner's final determination. T. 1-5.
Plaintiff subsequently filed this action.
The ALJ's Decision
one of the five-step sequential evaluation, see 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920, the ALJ determined that
plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since April 7, 2011, the alleged onset date. T. 15. At step
two, the ALJ found that plaintiff suffered from the severe
impairments of chronic pain syndrome of the left shoulder;
adjustment disorder with depression and anxiety; and learning
disability, NOS. Id. At step three, the ALJ found
that plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of any
listed impairment. T. 16.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that, considering
all of plaintiff's impairments, plaintiff retained the
RFC to perform a range of light work as defined in 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.967(b). T. 17. Specifically, the ALJ found that
plaintiff was capable of lifting 10 pounds frequently and 20
pounds occasionally with his right arm; lifting no more than
10 pounds with the left arm; occasionally pushing and pulling
with the upper extremities within the designated lifting
limitations; occasionally reaching overhead bilaterally;
occasionally reaching in all directions with the left upper
extremity; occasionally handling with the left upper
extremity. Id. The ALJ also found that plaintiff was
capable of performing unskilled work with only occasional
changes in the work setting and occasional interaction with
the public. Id.
four, the ALJ found that plaintiff was unable to perform any
past relevant work. T. 21. At step five, the ALJ concluded
that, considering plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that plaintiff can perform.
T. 22. Accordingly, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled.
district court may set aside the Commissioner's
determination that a claimant is not disabled only if the
factual findings are not supported by “substantial
evidence” or if the decision is based on legal error.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see also Green-Younger v.
Barnhart, 335 F.3d 99, 105-06 (2d Cir. 2003).
“Substantial evidence means ‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Shaw v. Chater,
221 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2000).
Violation of treating physician rule
first argues that the ALJ improperly rejected portions of the
uncontradicted medical opinions of treating orthopedic
surgeon Dr. Terrance M. Daino. The Court agrees.
Daino first began treating plaintiff in 2004, performing a
left shoulder arthroscopy with arthroscopically assisted
labral repair and arthroscopically assisted subacromial
decompression on plaintiff. T. 301-310. Plaintiff had
previously undergone shoulder surgery in 2000. T. 304. Dr.
Daino continued to treat plaintiff for his shoulder condition
throughout the relevant time period, including performing an
additional surgery in 2006. T. 295. On January 28, 2011, Dr.
Daino completed a Progress Record for plaintiff in which he
opined that plaintiff should not lift more than 10 to 15
pounds, should not lift or reach above shoulder level, and
should avoid repetitive activities. T. 342. On October 19,
2012, Dr. Daino completed a “medical source statement
regarding shoulders for Social Security disability
claim” regarding plaintiff's limitations. T.
485-86. Dr. Daino opined that plaintiff suffered from
impingement syndrome and pain in his left shoulder, could
work for 8 hours per day, was capable of sitting for 8 hours
per day, could lift no more than 5 pounds either occasionally
or frequently, could occasionally use his left arm below
shoulder lever, could occasionally raise his left arm over
shoulder lever, suffered from moderate pain that would
occasionally interfere with the attention and concentration
needed to perform even simple work ...