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Hennelly v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. New York

June 28, 2017

ARTHUR HENNELLY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Represented by counsel, Arthur Hennelly ("Plaintiff") instituted this action pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("the Act"), seeking review of the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("the Commissioner")[1]denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). This Court has jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c).

         PROCEDURAL STATUS

         On January 6, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for DIB. On January 12, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for SSI. In both applications, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning April 1, 2011, due to depression, anxiety, an inability to concentrate, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (T.138).[2] These claims were denied initially on March 20, 2012. (T.63-74). Plaintiff filed a written request for hearing on March 23, 2012. (T.75-76). A hearing was held before administrative law judge David S. Lewandowski ("the ALJ") on April 1, 2013, in Buffalo, New York. (See T.32-58). Plaintiff appeared with his attorney and testified. Jay Steinbrenner, an impartial vocational expert ("the VE"), also appeared and testified.

         After the hearing, upon the advice of his attorney, Plaintiff amended the alleged onset date to June 15, 2011. Additionally, Plaintiff s attorney submitted a statement authored by Plaintiff s parents, which was added to the record as Exhibit 8E.

         On April 24, 2013, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (T.16-31). Plaintiffs request for review by the Appeals Council was denied on September 15, 2014, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T.l-6). This timely action followed.

         The 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.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         The ALJ followed the five-step sequential evaluation procedure established by the Commissioner for adjudicating disability claims. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.

         At step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements of the Act through September 30, 2013, and has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 15, 2011, the amended alleged onset, date.

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

         At step three, the ALJ found that the severity of the Plaintiff's menial impairments, considered singly and in combination, do not meet or medically equal the criteria of Listing 12.04 (Affective Disorders) or Listing 12.06 (Anxiety Related Disorders). (T.22-23). Applying the special technique for evaluation of mental impairments, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has "mild restriction" in activities in daily living; "moderate difficulties" in social functioning; "mild difficulties" in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace; and had experienced no episodes of decompensation of extended duration. (T.22).

         Prior to proceeding to step four, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff as having the residual functional capacity ("RFC") the to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: he is able to understand, remember and carry out simple instructions and perform simple tasks with no or limited proximity to ...


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