United States District Court, W.D. New York
ETTA L. WRIGHT, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, United States District Judge
by counsel, Etta L. Wright (“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”)denying her
applications 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).
protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI on December
6, 2011, alleging a disability onset date of June 30, 2011.
Her claim was initially denied on April 26, 2012. Plaintiff
timely requested a hearing, which was conducted on July 18,
2013, by administrative law judge Robert T. Harvey
(“the ALJ”) in Buffalo, New York. Plaintiff
appeared with her attorney and testified. Impartial
vocational expert Don Schader (“the VE”) also
testified. On August 28, 2013, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. (T.24-40). Plaintiff's request for review by the
Appeals Council was denied on April 15, 2015, making the
ALJ's decision the final determination of the
Commissioner. Plaintiff then commenced this action.
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 reversed, and Plaintiff's
claim is remanded for further administrative proceedings.
The ALJ's Decision
the ALJ found that Plaintiff meets the Act's insured
status requirements through September 30, 2014. At step one
of the sequential evaluation, he found that Plaintiff had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 30, 2011,
the alleged onset date.
two, the ALJ determined that she has the following severe
impairments: anxiety disorder, panic disorder with
agoraphobia, and depressive disorder. He also determined that
her obesity, asthma, hypertension, and history of alcohol
abuse were not severe impairments.
three, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff's impairments in light
of Listings 12.04 (Affective disorders) and 12.06
(Anxiety-related disorders) and found that, considered singly
and in combination, they do not meet or equal either Listing.
to step four, the ALJ assessed Plaintiff as having the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
all exertional activities consistent with the broad world of
work, with the following nonexertional limitations: she has
(1) occasional limitation in her ability to
understand/remember and carry out detailed instructions; (2)
occasional limitation in her ability to interact
appropriately with the general public; (3) occasional
limitation in her ability to “deal limits [sic] in the
ability to make decisions”; and (4) she can work in a
low interpersonal-contact work environment.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had past relevant work at
a grocery store as a Food Demonstrator (Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (“DOT”) No. 297.354-010,
light, specific vocational preparation (“SVP”) 3)
and a Sandwich Maker (DOT No. 317.664-010, medium, SVP 2).
Given her RFC, the ALJ found, Plaintiff is unable to perform
any of her past relevant work.
five, the ALJ relied on the VE's testimony (T.67-68),
that a person of Plaintiff's age, vocational background,
education, and RFC would be capable of performing the
following representative occupations: (1) Laundry Worker (DOT
No. 361.685-018, medium, unskilled, SVP 2, with 570 jobs in
the Buffalo/Niagara Falls region and 198, 750 jobs
nationally); and (2) Marking Clerk (DOT No. 211.467-030,
light, unskilled, SVP 2, with 1, 782, 800 jobs nationally).
Accordingly, the ALJ entered a finding of not disabled.