United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
by counsel, Erica Bistoff (“Plaintiff”)
instituted this action pursuant to Title XVI of the Social
Security Act (“the Act”), seeking review of the
final decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security
(“the Commissioner”) denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). This Court
has jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383(c).
filed an application for SSI on October 4, 2011, alleging
disability beginning September 9, 1989, due to a learning
disability, anxiety, depression, asthma, sleep apnea, an
extremely sensitive vestibular system, sensory integration
problems, high risk for retinal detachment, phobia of school,
short-term memory loss, and an auditory decoding deficit.
(T.158). After this application was denied on
December 27, 2011, Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was
held in Buffalo, New York, on January 11, 2012, before
administrative law judge Curtis Axelsen (“the
ALJ”). Plaintiff appeared with her attorney and
testified. The ALJ did not call any witnesses. On March 8,
2013, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision, finding that
she was not under a “disability” as defined by
the Act from, October 4, 2011,  the SSI application date, through
the date of the ALJ's decision. (T.7-26). The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
September 28, 2014, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. (T.1-5). This timely action
parties have cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Court adopts and incorporates by reference
herein the undisputed and comprehensive factual summaries
contained in the parties' briefs. The record will be
discussed in more detail below as necessary to the resolution
of this appeal. For the reasons that follow, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
followed the five-step procedure established by the
Commissioner for evaluating disability claims. See
20 C.F.R. § 416.920.
one, the ALJ noted that Plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since October 4, 2011, the
two, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff as having the severe
impairments: obesity, chronic sinusitis, obstructive sleep
apnea and anxiety.
three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments,
while “severe” within the meaning of the
Regulations, are not severe enough to meet or medically equal
any impairments listed in the Listing of Impairments,
see 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
to proceeding to step four, the ALJ made a determination as
to Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). The ALJ initially noted that the medical
evidence does not support the existence of any significant
exertional limitations and, in fact, would support the RFC to
perform work at the medium exertional level. However,
considering Plaintiff's obesity, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff retains the RFC to perform work at the light
exertional level, with the need to avoid respiratory triggers
due to her chronic sinus problems. The ALJ thus assessed
Plaintiff has the RFC to perform “light work as defined
in 20 C.F.R. 416.967(b) in a work environment free of
excessive dust, fumes and respiratory irritants, [and]
involving occasional contact with coworkers, supervisors and
the public.” (T.).
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has no past relevant work,
was 22 years-old on the date the application was filed, and
had a high school education.
five, the ALJ found that Medical-Vocational Rule 202.20
directed a finding of “not disabled” because the
additional limitations caused by Plaintiff's
nonexertional limitations have little or no effect on the
occupational basis of ...