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Young v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. New York

December 27, 2017

MARKEETA YOUNG, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          For the Plaintiff: CHRISTOPHER JAMES BOWES Center for Disability Advocacy Rights

          For the Defendant: BRIDGET M. ROHDE Acting United States Attorney Eastern District CANDACE SCOTT APPLETON Assistant U.S. Attorney.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          FREDERIC BLOCK SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Markeeta Young (“Young”), who formerly worked as a counselor and aide at a home for cerebral palsy patients, seeks review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application for disability benefits under the Social Security Act. Both parties move for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's motion is denied and Young's motion is granted insofar as the case is remanded for further proceedings.

         I.

         In July 2013, Young filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits. She alleged disability, as of March 1, 2013, from cerebral palsy and headaches. The Social Security Administration denied her application, and she had a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Applying the familiar five-step evaluation process, [1] the ALJ determined that: (1) although Young had engaged in work activity from March 2013 through January 2015, there may have been a continuous 12-month period during which she did not engage in substantial gainful activity; (2) her degenerative disc disease, cerebral palsy, uneven leg length, asthma, and headaches were 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 1.

         The ALJ then determined that Young 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) Young was unable to perform her past relevant work as a home health aide, but (5) there were jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that Young could perform, namely addressor, order clerk, and final assembler.

         The Appeals Council denied Young's request for review, rendering final the ALJ's decision to deny benefits. Young timely sought judicial review.

         II.

         “In 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). Young argues that the ALJ's RFC determination was not supported by substantial evidence. The Court agrees.

         A. RFC Determination

         The ALJ determined that Young had the RFC to perform sedentary work with the following restrictions: (1) lift or carry up to 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently; (2) stand or walk with normal breaks for up to 2 hours in an 8hour work day; (3) sit for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour work day; (4) occasionally climb ramps or stairs but never ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; (5) occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; and (6) never work around hazards like heights, machinery, dangerous equipment, fumes, odors, dusts, smoke, gases, and poor ventilation. See Administrative Record (“AR”) at 24. The ALJ's RFC determination was based on Young's hearing testimony, medical history, and the medical opinions of multiple physicians. Id. at 24-27.

         The ALJ failed to properly determine Young's credibility, failed to properly weigh the medical evidence, and failed to rely on any expert medical opinion in support of her RFC determination. The RFC determination was therefore not based on substantial evidence.

         1. ...


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