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Baker v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. New York

November 21, 2017

AMANDA BAKER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HON. MICHAEL A. TELESCA UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Represented by counsel, Amanda Baker (“Plaintiff”) instituted this action pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”), seeking review of the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security (“the Commissioner”)[1] denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). The Court has jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c).

         II. Procedural History

         On July 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Title II application for a period of disability and DIB. She also protectively filed a Title XVI application for SSI on July 17, 2012. In both applications, she alleged disability beginning July 7, 2012. These claims were denied initially on October 15, 2012. Plaintiff filed a written request for hearing on October 19, 2012. On December 3, 2013, administrative law judge Eric L. Glazer (“the ALJ”) held a hearing in Buffalo, New York, at which Plaintiff appeared with her attorney and testified. Through her attorney, Plaintiff amended her onset date to July 30, 2011. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on February 28, 2014. Plaintiff's request for review by the Appeals Council was denied on March 15, 2015, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff then timely commenced this action.

         Plaintiff and Defendant have cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Court will discuss the record evidence further below, as necessary to the resolution of the parties' contentions. For the reasons set forth herein, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

         III. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ found, at step one, that Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements of the Act through September 30, 2013, and has not engaged in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) since July 30, 2011, the alleged onset date. Although Plaintiff began working full-time as a leather-cutter in October of 2013, this does not rise to the level of SGA. She also worked as a keeper/aide to seniors from May of 2011, to June of 2012; and for Marshall's department store from July of 2013, to August 2013. However, these positions were performed on a part-time basis and did not rise to the level of SGA.

         At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the following “severe” impairments: mild gastroesophogeal reflux disease (“GERD”), gastritis, gastroparesis, dysthymic disorder, and anxiety disorder.

         At step three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of a listed impairment. In particular, the ALJ determined that the severity of Plaintiff's mental impairments, considered singly and in combination, do not meet or medically equal the criteria of listings 12.02 and 12.04. The ALJ determined that the paragraph “B” criteria are not met because Plaintiff has no limitations in activities of daily living or social functioning, only mild limitations in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace, and has not experienced any periods of decompensation. The ALJ found that the paragraph “C” criteria are not met because Plaintiff has not experienced any periods of decompensation, a required criterion under paragraph “C”.

         The ALJ proceeded to find that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels with the following nonexertional limitations: she is able to perform simple, routine, and repetitive tasks, including work that involves only simple multiplication or division, or both.

         At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is capable of performing her past relevant work as a fast food worker (light exertion, unskilled), because this work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by her RFC.

         The ALJ did not perform an alternative step five analysis and entered a finding that Plaintiff had not been under a disability as defined in the Act throughout the relevant period.

         IV. ...


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