United States District Court, S.D. New York
ANALISA TORRES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Rosario Jimenez de Cabrera, brings this action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the
"Commissioner") denying Cabrera's claim for
disability insurance benefits ("DIB"). The parties
cross-move for judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(c). ECF Nos. 10, 12. On July 25, 2017,
the Honorable James L. Cott, U.S. Magistrate Judge, issued a
Report and Recommendation (the "R & R")
recommending that Cabrera's motion be granted to the
extent it seeks remand for a new hearing, the
Commissioner's cross-motion be denied, and the case be
remanded to the Social Security Administration (the
"SSA") for further proceedings. R & R, ECF No.
14. On August 8, 2017, the Commissioner filed objections to
the R & R. Comm'r Obj., ECF No. 15. On August 22,
2017, Cabrera filed a response to the Commissioner's
objections. Resp., ECF No. 16. On due consideration, after
review of the record, the thorough and well-reasoned R &
R is ADOPTED.
filed an application for DIB on February 15, 2013, alleging
disability as of February 3, 2013. Administrative R.
("R.") 89-90, ECF No. 9. A video hearing was held
before an administrative law judge ("ALJ") on July
24, 2014. Id. at 57. On October 20, 2014, the ALJ
issued a decision and found that Cabrera was not disabled.
Id. at 40-52. The ALJ found that she had several
severe impairments, including a herniated lumbar disc,
cervical radiculopathy, migraine headaches, hypothyroidism,
depressive disorder, and anxiety disorder. Id. at
42. He also found that she has the residual functional
capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1567(c). Id. at 44. In coming to this
conclusion, the ALJ considered, inter alia,
Cabrera's alleged symptoms; the opinion evidence of
Cabrera's treating physician, Mariya Tsinis, M.D., and
treating psychiatrist, Peter Ruiz, M.D.; and the opinion
evidence of consultative examiner, Ted Woods, M.D., and
consultative psychologist, Michael Kushner, Ph.D.
Id. at 45-52. The ALJ's decision became the
Commissioner's final decision on January 12, 2016 when
the SSA Appeals Council denied Cabrera's request for
review. Id. at 8. Cabrera sought judicial review in
this Court on June 9, 2016. ECF No. 1.
Standard of Review
reviewing final decisions of the SSA, courts "conduct a
plenary review of the administrative record to determine if
there is substantial evidence, considering the record as a
whole, to support the Commissioner's decision and if the
correct legal standards have been applied." Mclntyre
v. Colvin, 758 F.3d 146, 149 (2d Cir. 2014) (quoting
Kohler v. Astrue, 546 F.3d 260, 265 (2d Cir. 2008)).
Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Selian
v. Astrue, 708 F.3d 409, 417 (2d Cir. 2013) (per curiam)
(quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
district court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole
or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the
magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). When a
party makes specific objections, the court reviews de
novo those portions of the R & R to which objection
is made. Id.; Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). However,
when a "party makes only conclusory or general
objections, or simply reiterates the original arguments,
" the court reviews the R & R for clear error.
Rivera v. Colvin, No. 11 Civ. 7469, 2014 WL 3732317,
at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 28, 2014) (quoting Pinkney v.
Progressive Home Health Servs., No. 06 Civ. 5023, 2008
WL 2811816, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. July 21, 2008)). The Court may
adopt those portions of the R & R to which no objection
is made "as long as no clear error is apparent from the
face of the record." Oquendo v. Colvin, No. 12
Civ. 4527, 2014 WL 4160222, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 19, 2014)
(quoting Francis v. A &E Stores, Inc., No. 06
Civ. 1638, 2008 WL 4619858, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 16, 2008)).
& R recommends that Cabrera's motion for judgment on
the pleadings be granted, the Commissioner's cross-motion
be denied, and the case be remanded to the SSA for a new
hearing pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
R & R 37. The Commissioner objects to Judge Cott's
determinations that (1) the ALJ failed to consider the
relevant regulatory factors before attributing less than
controlling weight to the medical opinions of treating
physician Dr. Tsinis and treating psychiatrist Dr. Ruiz; and
(2) the reasoning the ALJ employed when weighing the medical
opinions was insufficient to justify granting a treating
physician's opinion less than controlling weight.
Comm'r Obj. 5-13; see R & R 26-37.
Treating Physician Rule
treating physician's opinion is given controlling weight
if the opinion on the nature and severity of an impairment is
"well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with
the other substantial evidence in [the] case record." 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2). "The opinion of a treating
physician is accorded extra weight because the continuity of
treatment he provides and the doctor/patient relationship he
develops place him in a unique position to make a complete
and accurate diagnosis of his patient." Petrie v.
Astrue, 412 F.App'x 401, 405 (2d Cir. 2011) (summ.
order) (quoting Monguer v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033,
1039 n.2 (2d Cir. 1983)). "Nevertheless, '[a]
treating physician's statement that the claimant is
disabled cannot itself be determinative.'"
Micheli v. Astrue, 501 F.App'x 26, 28 (2d Cir.
2012) (summ. order) (alteration in original) (quoting
Snell v. Apfel, 177 F.3d 128, 133 (2d Cir. 1999)).
ALJ who refuses to accord controlling weight to the medical
opinion of a treating physician must consider various
'factors' to determine how much weight to give to the
opinion." Halloran v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d 28, 32
(2d Cir. 2004) (quoting 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527).
"Among those factors are: (i) the frequency of
examination and the length, nature and extent of the
treatment relationship; (ii) the evidence in support of the
treating physician's opinion; (iii) the consistency of
the opinion with the record as a whole; (iv) whether the
opinion is from a specialist; and (v) other factors brought
to the Social Security Administration's attention that
tend to support or contradict the opinion." Id.
(citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527).
must set forth the reasons for the weight assigned to the
treating physician's opinion. See Id. The Second
Circuit has said that courts should not "hesitate to
remand when the Commissioner has not provided 'good
reasons' for the ...