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Rivera v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 6, 2017

MARISOL RIVERA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MARISOL RIVERA Pro Se

          U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. DAVID B. MYERS, ESQ. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II Counsel for Defendant

          DECISION AND ORDER

          GLENN T. SUDDABY, Chief United States District Judge

         Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Marisol Rivera (“Plaintiff”) against the Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or “the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings and Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 15, 16, 17.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied, and Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted. The Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiff's disability benefits is affirmed, and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born in 1962, making her 50 years old at the alleged onset date and 51 years old at the date of the ALJ's decision. Plaintiff reported completing the 8th grade. Plaintiff has past work as a housekeeper/cleaner, institutional cook, and personal care aide. Generally, Plaintiff alleges disability due to limited mobility, lumbar pain, cervical pain, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income on June 13, 2014, alleging disability beginning February 11, 2013. Plaintiff's applications were initially denied on October 3, 2013, after which she timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Plaintiff appeared at a video hearing before ALJ Michael A. Rodriquez on August 5, 2014. On November 7, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 8-14.)[1] On December 30, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-4.)

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following six findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 10-14.) First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is insured for disability benefits under Title II until December 31, 2017. (T. 10.) Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. (Id.) Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's degenerative joint disease of the lumbar and cervical spine, diabetes mellitus, vitamin D deficiency, hypertension, obesity, and spinal neoplasm are severe impairments. (Id.) Fourth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's severe impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, App. 1 (the “Listings”). (T. 10-11.) Fifth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform

light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). The claimant is capable of lifting and carrying occasionally 20 pounds (10 pounds frequently), and standing, walking, and sitting 6 hours during an 8-hour workday except no climbing ropes, ladders, and scaffolds, limited to occasional kneeling and crouching but no crawling; and limited to frequent reaching (overhead/distance and direction), frequent dexterity/fingering (fine manipulation) and frequent grip/handling (gross manipulation).

(T. 11.) Sixth, and finally, the ALJ found that Plaintiff remains able to perform her past relevant work as a cleaner/housekeeper both as generally performed and as actually performed, and therefore is not disabled. (T. 13-14.)

         D. The Parties' Briefings on ...


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