United States District Court, W.D. New York
ZACHARY M. SCIALDONE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
FRANK P. GERACI, JR. CHIEF JUDGE.
27, 2016, Zachary M. Scialdone ("Scialdone")
brought this action pursuant to the Social Security Act
("the Act") seeking review of the final decision of
the Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("the
Commissioner") that denied his applications for
disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles
II and XVI of the Act. ECF No. 1. The Court has jurisdiction
over this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g),
19, 2017, the Court granted counsel's motion to
substitute party due to Scialdone's sudden death on June
24, 2016. ECF No. 19. Accordingly, Scialdone's father,
Gary Scialdone ("Plaintiff), is now the plaintiff in
parties have moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). ECF Nos. 12, 13. For
the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs motion is GRANTED and the
Commissioner's motion is DENIED. The Commissioner's
decision is REVERSED and this matter is REMANDED solely for
calculation and payment of benefits.
March 4 and 28, 2013, Scialdone applied for DIB and SSI with
the Social Security Administration ("the SSA").
165-72. He alleged disability since April 1, 2011 due to
depression and attention deficit disorder ("ADD").
Tr. 198. On October 21, 2014, Scialdone, Plaintiff, and a
vocational expert ("VE") testified at a hearing via
videoconference before Administrative Law Judge James G.
Myles ("the ALJ"). Tr. 45-72. On November 19, 2014,
the ALJ issued a decision finding that Scialdone was not
disabled within the meaning of the Act. Tr. 31-41. On May 2,
2016, the Appeals Council denied Scialdone's request for
review. Tr. 1-7. Thereafter, Scialdone commenced this action
seeking review of the Commissioner's final decision. ECF
District Court Review
reviewing a final decision of the SSA, this Court is limited
to determining whether the SSA's conclusions were
supported by substantial evidence in the record and were
based on a correct legal standard." Talavera v.
Astrue, 697 F.3d 145, 151 (2d Cir. 2012) (quotation
marks omitted); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
The Act holds that a decision by the Commissioner is
"conclusive" if it is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). "Substantial evidence
means more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion." Moron v. Astrue, 569
F.3d 108, 112 (2d Cir. 2009) (quotation marks omitted). It is
not the Court's function to "determine de
novo whether [the claimant] is disabled."
Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1998)
(quotation marks omitted); see also Wagner v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856, 860 (2d Cir.
1990) (holding that review of the Secretary's decision is
not de novo and that the Secretary's findings
are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence).
must follow a five-step sequential evaluation to determine
whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act.
See Parker v. City of New York, 476 U.S. 467, 470-71
(1986). At step one, the ALJ must determine whether the
claimant is engaged in substantial gainful work activity.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b). If so, the
claimant is not disabled. If not, the ALJ proceeds to step
two and determines whether the claimant has an impairment, or
combination of impairments, that is "severe" within
the meaning of the Act, meaning that it imposes significant
restrictions on the claimant's ability to perform basic
work activities. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). If the
claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, the analysis concludes with a finding of
"not disabled." If the claimant does, the ALJ
continues to step three.
three, the ALJ examines whether a claimant's impairment
meets or medically equals the criteria of a listed impairment
in Appendix 1 of Subpart P of Regulation No. 4 (the
"Listings"). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). If the
impairment meets or medically equals the criteria of a
Listing and meets the durational requirement (20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1509), the claimant is disabled. If not, the ALJ
determines the claimant's residual functional capacity
("RFC"), which is the ability to perform physical
or mental work activities on a sustained basis,
notwithstanding limitations for the collective impairments.
See 20 C.F.R. § 4O4.l52O(e)-(f).
then proceeds to step four and determines whether the
claimant's RFC permits him or her to perform the
requirements of his or her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(f). If the claimant can perform such
requirements, then he or she is not disabled. If he or she
cannot, the analysis proceeds to the fifth and final step,
wherein the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that
the claimant is not disabled. To do so, the Commissioner must
present evidence to demonstrate that the claimant
"retains a residual functional capacity to perform
alternative substantial gainful work which exists in the
national economy" in light of his or her age, education,
and work experience. See Rosa v. Callahan, 168 F.3d
72, 77 (2d Cir. 1999) (quotation marks omitted); see
also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1560(c).
The ALJ's Decision
ALJ's decision analyzed Scialdone's claim for
benefits under the process described above. At step one, the
ALJ found that Scialdone had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the alleged onset date. Tr. 33. At
step two, the ALJ found that Scialdone has the following
severe impairments: depression, ADD, and substance use
disorder. Tr. 33-34. At step three, the ALJ found that these
impairments, alone or in combination, did not meet or
medically equal any Listings impairment. Tr. 34-35.
the ALJ determined that Scialdone retained the RFC to perform
a full range of work at all exertional levels but with
nonexertional limitations. Tr. 35-39. Specifically, the ALJ
found that Scialdone is limited to routine, unskilled work
with only occasional interpersonal contact and cannot work
with the public or in teams. Tr. 35.
four, the ALJ indicated that Scialdone has no past relevant
work. Tr. 39. At step five, the ALJ relied on the VE's
testimony and found that Scialdone can adjust to other work
that exists in significant numbers in the national economy
given his RFC, age of 21-years-old on the alleged onset date,
high school education, and work experience. Tr. 40-41.
Specifically, the VE testified that Scialdone could work as a
linen room attendant, routing ...