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Gatien v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 13, 2017

CATHERINE J. GATIEN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          The DeHaan Law Firm P.C. Attorneys for the Plaintiff By: John W. DeHaan, Esq., Of Counsel.

          United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York Attorneys for the Defendant By: Robert W. Schumacher II, Assistant United States Attorney.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION & ORDER

          ARTHUR D. SPATT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The Plaintiff Catherine J. Gatien (the “Plaintiff”) commenced this civil action pursuant to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405 et seq. (the “Act”), challenging a final determination by the Defendant, Nancy A. Berryhill (the “Defendant” or the “Commissioner”), the acting commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Administration”) at the time of filing, that she is ineligible to receive Social Security disability insurance benefits.

         The Court notes that the Plaintiff originally named Carolyn W. Colvin as the Defendant in this action, but by operation of law, the present Acting Commissioner, Nancy A. Berryhill is “automatically substituted as a party.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d); see also 45 U.S.C. §405(g) (“Any action instituted in accordance with this subsection shall survive notwithstanding any change in the person occupying the office of Commissioner of Social Security or any vacancy in such office.”).

         Presently before the Court are the parties' cross motions, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Fed. R. Civ. P.” or “Rule”) 12(c) for a judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons that follow, the Plaintiff's motion is granted, and the Commissioner's motion is denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 22, 2013, the Plaintiff applied for disability benefits. She claimed that she was disabled as of February 1, 2011 due to back and neck impairments.

         On April 22, 2013, the Administration denied her claim, and the Plaintiff requested a hearing.

         On March 18, 2014, ALJ Andrew S. Weiss (the “ALJ”) conducted a hearing during which the Plaintiff was represented by counsel. At the hearing, the Plaintiff's counsel amended the Plaintiff's alleged disability onset date to January 31, 2013.

         On April 4, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision denying the Plaintiff's claim. The Plaintiff requested a review by the Appeals Council, but the request was denied on June 15, 2015. At that point, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         On August 13, 2015, the Plaintiff commenced the instant action. On July 11, 2016, the parties' cross motions for a judgment on the pleadings were fully briefed. However, the Court did not receive the administrative record until April 20, 2017.

         For the purposes of these motions, familiarity with the underlying administrative record is presumed. The Court's discussion of the evidence will be limited to the specific challenges presently raised by the Plaintiff. In this regard, references to the record are denoted as “R.”

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. The ...


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