United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge
pro se, plaintiff Brian Walker
(“plaintiff”) brings this action pursuant to
Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the
“Act”), seeking review of the final decision of
defendant the Acting Commissioner of Social Security (the
“Commissioner” or “defendant”)
denying his applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). The Court has jurisdiction over this
matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Presently before
the Court is the Commissioner's motion for judgment on
the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, the
Commissioner's motion is granted.
protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI on April 18,
2013, both of which were initially denied. Administrative
Transcript (“T.”) 60-67, 158-65. At
plaintiff's request, a hearing was held before
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Michael W.
Devlin on February 24, 2015, where plaintiff appeared with
non-attorney representative David Penrose. T. 46-92. On July
18, 2015, ALJ Devlin issued a decision in which he found that
plaintiff was not disabled as defined in the act. T. 6-19. On
January 11, 2017, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review, rendering the ALJ's determination the
Commissioner's final decision. T. 1-3. This action
The ALJ's Decision
the ALJ determined that plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through December 31, 2013. T. 11. At
step one of the five-step sequential evaluation, see
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920, the ALJ determined
that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity from July 1, 2011, the alleged onset date.
Id. At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff
suffered from the severe impairments of diabetes mellitus
type II, diabetic neuropathy, and obesity. Id. The
ALJ further found that plaintiff had the non-severe
impairments of blurry vision and status post cholecystectomy.
T. 12. At step three, the ALJ found that plaintiff did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of any listed impairment.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that plaintiff
retained the RFC to perform sedentary work as defined in 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a), with the
following additional limitations: can occasionally lift
and/or carry ten pounds; can frequently lift and/or carry
less than ten pounds; can stand and/or walk for up to two
hours in an eight hour workday; can sit for about six hours
in an eight hour workday; requires use of an assistive device
(e.g. a cane) to ambulate to and from the workstation; can
occasionally push and/or pull ten pounds; can frequently
finger bilaterally; can occasionally climb ramps and/or
stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; and can
never climb ladders/ropes/scaffolds. T. 13.
four, the ALJ found that plaintiff was unable to perform any
past relevant work. T. 17. At step five, the ALJ concluded
that, considering plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform.
T. 18. Accordingly, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled.
district court may set aside the Commissioner's
determination that a claimant is not disabled only if the
factual findings are not supported by “substantial
evidence” or if the decision is based on legal error.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see also Green-Younger v.
Barnhart, 335 F.3d 99, 105-06 (2d Cir. 2003).
“Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Shaw v. Chater, 221 F.3d 126, 131
(2d Cir. 2000) (internal quotation omitted). “Where the
Commissioner's decision rests on adequate findings
supported by evidence having rational probative force, [the
district court] will not substitute [its] judgment for that
of the Commissioner.” Veino v. Barnhart, 312
F.3d 578, 586 (2d Cir. 2002). This deferential standard is
not applied to the Commissioner's application of the law,
and the district court must independently determine whether
the Commissioner's decision applied the correct legal
standards in determining that the claimant was not disabled.
Townley v. Heckler, 748 F.2d 109, 112 (2d Cir.
case, the Commissioner contends that her final decision was
well-supported by substantial evidence and free from legal
error. Having reviewed the record, and for the reasons
discussed below, the Court agrees.
The ALJ's Findings Are Supported by Substantial
Court has considered the findings made by the ALJ at each
step of the five-step sequential evaluation. The ALJ's
determination at step one was favorable to ...