United States District Court, N.D. New York
A.J.H. a minor, by ALISHA MACK, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY Defendant.
OLINKSY LAW GROUP HOWARD D. OLINSKY, ESQ. Counsel for
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. SIXTINA FERNANDEZ, ESQ. OFFICE OF
REG'L GEN. COUNSEL-REGION II Counsel for Defendant.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
William B. Mitchell Carter, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
matter was referred to me, for all proceedings and entry of a
final judgment, pursuant to the Social Security Pilot
Program, N.D.N.Y. General Order No. 18, and in accordance
with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P.
73, N.D.N.Y. Local Rule 73.1 and the consent of the parties.
(Dkt. Nos. 12, 13.)
before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by
Alisha Mack (“Plaintiff”) on behalf of a minor,
A.J.H. (“Claimant”) against the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Defendant” or “the
Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), are
the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings.
(Dkt. Nos. 9, 10.) For the reasons set forth below, it is
ordered that Plaintiff's motion be denied and
Defendant's motion be granted.
was born in 2008, at the time of filing Claimant was a
preschooler and at the time of the hearing she was a
school-age child. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(g).
Claimant's alleged disability consists of cerebral palsy.
September 25, 2012, Plaintiff applied for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act on Claimant's behalf. (T. 275.)
Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which
she timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge (“the ALJ”). On March 26, 2014, and again
on October 23, 2014, Plaintiff and Claimant appeared before
the ALJ, John M. Lischak. (T. 35-95, 96-121.) On February 21,
2014, ALJ Lischak issued a written decision finding Claimant
not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 15-34.) On
May 16, 2016, the Appeals Council (“AC”) denied
Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-6.)
Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this
The ALJ's Decision
in his decision, the ALJ made the following six findings of
fact and conclusions of law. First, the ALJ found that
Claimant was a “preschooler” at the time of
filing and a “school-age child” at the time of
the hearing pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(g). (T.
21.) Second, the ALJ found that Claimant had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the application date.
(Id.) Third, the ALJ found that Claimant suffered
from the severe impairment of cerebral palsy. (Id.)
Fourth, the ALJ found that Claimant did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix I (“the Listings”).
(Id.) Fifth, the ALJ found that Claimant did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that
functionally equaled an impairment set forth in the Listings.
(T. 21-30.) Sixth, and finally, the ALJ concluded Claimant
had not been disabled, as defined by the Social Security Act,
since September 25, 2012, the date her application was filed.
THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS
in support of her motion for judgment on the pleadings,
Plaintiff makes two arguments. First, Plaintiff argues the
ALJ should have found Claimant disabled under Listing §
111.07 for cerebral palsy. (Dkt. No. 9 at 13-15 [Pl.'s
Mem. of Law].) Second, and lastly, Plaintiff argues the
ALJ's credibility determination was unsupported by
substantial evidence. (Id. at 15-16.)
in support of her cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings,
Defendant makes two arguments. Defendant argues substantial
evidence supported the ALJ's finding that Claimant's
impairment did not meet or equal the requirements of a Listed
impairment. (Dkt. No. 10 at 5-11 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].)
Second, and lastly, Defendant argues the ALJ properly
evaluated the credibility of Plaintiff and Claimant.
(Id. at 11-13.)
RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD
reviewing a denial of disability benefits may not determine
de novo whether an individual is disabled. See 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Wagner v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856,
860 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, the Commissioner's
determination will only be reversed if the correct legal
standards were not applied, or it was not supported by
substantial evidence. See Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d
983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987) (“Where there is a reasonable
basis for doubt whether the ALJ applied correct legal
principles, application of the substantial evidence standard
to uphold a finding of no disability creates an unacceptable
risk that a claimant will be deprived of the right to have
her disability determination made according to the correct
legal principles.”); see Grey v. Heckler, 721
F.2d 41, 46 (2d Cir. 1983); Marcus v. Califano, 615
F.2d 23, 27 (2d Cir. 1979).
evidence” is evidence that amounts to “more than
a mere scintilla, ” and it has been defined as
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420, 1427 (1971). Where evidence is deemed susceptible to
more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's
conclusion must be upheld. See Rutherford v.
Schweiker, 685 F.2d 60, 62 (2d Cir. 1982).
determine on appeal whether the ALJ's findings are
supported by substantial evidence, a reviewing court
considers the whole record, examining evidence from both
sides, because an analysis of the substantiality of the
evidence must also include that which detracts from its
weight.” Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d 255, 258
(2d Cir. 1988).
supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's
finding must be sustained “even where substantial
evidence may support the plaintiff's position and despite
that the court's independent analysis of the evidence may
differ from the [Commissioner's].” Rosado v.
Sullivan, 805 F.Supp. 147, 153 (S.D.N.Y. 1992). In other
words, this Court must afford the Commissioner's
determination considerable deference, and may not substitute
“its own judgment for that of the [Commissioner], even
if it might ...