United States District Court, E.D. New York
Christopher James Bowes Attorney for the Plaintiff, By:
Christopher J. Bowes, Esq., Of Counsel.
States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New
York Attorneys for the Defendant, By: Dara A. Olds, Assistant
United States Attorney.
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION & ORDER
D. SPATT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
15, 2016, the plaintiff, Joseph Byrne (the
“Plaintiff” or the “Claimant”),
commenced this appeal 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 Acting Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the “Defendant” or the
“Commissioner”), that he is ineligible to receive
Social Security disability insurance benefits.
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 denied in its entirety, and the Defendant's
motion is granted in its entirety.
October 18, 2013, the Plaintiff applied for disability
insurance benefits under the Act, alleging that he has been
disabled since July 27, 2009. The Plaintiff claims that he is
disabled because of hip, knee, shoulder and back injuries, as
well as sinusitis and gastroesophageal reflux disease related
to time spent at the World Trade Center in 2001.
claim was denied on December 11, 2013, and he requested a
hearing. The Plaintiff appeared with counsel before
Administrative Law Judge Patrick Kilgannon (the
“ALJ”) on May 12, 2015. On August 28, 2015, the
ALJ issued a written decision in which he found that the
Plaintiff was not entitled to disability benefits under the
Plaintiff sought a review by the Appeals Council, which
denied his request on April 12, 2016. With his request for
review, the Plaintiff included a December 30, 2015 letter
from Andrew Pasternack, a vocational expert. The ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner upon
the Appeals Council's denial of the Plaintiff's
request for review.
15, 2016, the Plaintiff filed the instant action. The parties
submitted the matter as fully briefed to the Court on March
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
and responses presently raised by the Plaintiff and the
Defendant. In this regard, references to the record are
denoted as “R.”
The Standard For Benefits Under The Act
defines the term “disability” to mean an
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). A person may only be disabled if his,
“impairments are of such severity that he is not only
unable to do his previous work[, ] but cannot, considering
his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other
kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).
determining whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner
is required to apply the five-step sequential process
promulgated by the Social Security Administration, set forth
in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. Rosa v. Callahan, 168
F.3d 72, 77 (2d Cir. 1999). The Claimant bears the burden of
proving the first four steps, but then the burden shifts to
the Commissioner at the fifth step to prove that the Claimant
is capable of working. Kohler v. Astrue, 546 F.3d
260, 265 (2d Cir. 2008); Rosa, 168 F.3d at 77.
See also Perez v. Chater, 77 F.3d 41, 46 (2d Cir.
1996) (“If the claimant satisfies her burden of proving
the requirements in the first four steps, the burden then
shifts to the [Commissioner] to prove in the fifth step that
the claimant is capable of working.”). “If at any
step a finding of disability or non-disability can be made,
the [Social Security Administration] will not review the
claim further.” Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S.
20, 24, 124 S.Ct. 376, 379, 157 L.Ed.2d 333 (2003).
the five-step sequential evaluation process, the
(1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
impairment or combination of impairments; (3) whether the
impairment meets or equals the severity of the specified
impairments in the Listing of Impairments; (4) based on a
“residual functional capacity” assessment,
whether the claimant can perform any of his or her past
relevant work despite the impairment; and (5) whether there
are significant numbers of jobs in the national economy that
the claimant can perform given the claimant's residual
functional capacity, age, education, and work experience.
McIntyre v. Colvin, 758 F.3d 146, 150 (2d Cir.
2014); Pratts v. Chater, 94 F.3d 34, 37 (2d Cir.
1996); Berry v. Schweiker, 675 F.2d 464, 467 (2d
Cir. 1982) (per curiam); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520,
416.920. When conducting this analysis, the ALJ must consider
the objective medical facts, the diagnoses or medical
opinions based on these facts, the subjective evidence of
pain and disability, and the claimant's age, background,
education and work experience. Mongeur v. Heckler,
722 F.2d 1033, 1037 (2d Cir. 1983) (per curiam).