United States District Court, E.D. New York
PAUL P. VIANA, JR., Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
the Plaintiff: CHARLES E. BINDER Law Offices of Harry J.
Binder and Charles E. Binder, P.C.
the Defendant: BRIDGET M. ROHDE Acting United States Attorney
Eastern District of New York By: KATHLEEN A. MAHONEY
Assistant U.S. Attorney
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
FREDERIC BLOCK Senior United States District Judge.
Viana, Jr. (“Viana”), who formerly worked as a
file clerk at a law firm, seeks review of the final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying his application for
disability benefits under the Social Security Act (the
“Act”). Both parties move for judgment on the
pleadings. For the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner's motion is denied, Viana's motion is
granted, and the case is remanded for the calculation of
October 2011, Viana filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits. He alleged disability, as of June 17,
2011,  from back pain. The Social Security
Administration (the “SSA”) denied his
application, and he had a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). In a decision dated April 10,
2013, the ALJ held that Viana was not disabled. The Appeals
Council granted review and, on May 14, 2014, remanded for a
new hearing and decision, reasoning that the ALJ had failed
to assess the effect of Viana's obesity, to adequately
evaluate his ability to perform existing jobs, and to
evaluate testimony submitted by Viana's wife.
remand, Viana appeared at a second hearing before the same
ALJ, and, on December 12, 2014, the ALJ again held that Viana
was not disabled. Applying the familiar five-step evaluation
process,  the ALJ determined that: (1) Viana had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity from July 13, 2009,
through December 31, 2015, the date he was last insured for
disability benefits under the Act; (2) his lumbar disc
disease, disc herniation, and lumbar
spondylolisthesis constituted severe impairments; but (3)
they did not meet or medically equal the criteria of an
impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
then determined that Viana had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work with
certain restrictions. Applying this RFC to the remaining
steps, the ALJ determined that (4) Viana was unable to
perform his past relevant work as a file clerk, but (5) there
were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national
economy that Viana could perform, namely credit card clerk,
surveillance system monitor, and charge account clerk.
Appeals Council denied Viana's request for review,
rendering final the ALJ's decision to deny benefits.
Viana timely sought judicial review.
reviewing a final decision of the Commissioner, a district
court must determine whether the correct legal standards were
applied and whether substantial evidence supports the
decision.” Butts v. Barnhart, 388 F.3d 377,
384 (2d Cir. 2004); see also 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). “[S]ubstantial evidence . . . means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); see also Selian
v. Astrue, 708 F.3d 409, 417 (2d Cir. 2013). Viana
argues that (1) the ALJ failed to properly weigh the medical
opinion evidence; (2) the ALJ failed to properly evaluate
Viana's credibility; and (3) the Appeals Council failed
to properly consider new medical evidence.
Court agrees that the ALJ failed to properly weigh the
medical evidence and failed to properly determine Viana's
credibility. As a result, the ALJ's RFC determination was
not supported by substantial evidence.
determined that Viana had the RFC to perform sedentary work
with the following restrictions: (1) carry 20 pounds
frequently and 20-50 pounds occasionally; (2) sit for 2 hours
at a time for a total of 8 hours during a workday, with the
option to change positions at will; (3) walk 1 hour at a time
for 2 hours total during the workday; (4) stand 1 hour at a
time for a total of 2 hours during the work day; (5) perform
postural activities, such as bending and kneeling,
occasionally; and (6) never climb ladders or scaffolds or be
exposed to vibrations or extreme heat. See
Administrative Record (“AR”) at 56.
ALJ's RFC determination was based on Viana's medical
history, his hearing testimony, and medical opinions of