United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
by counsel, Amy Smith (“Plaintiff”) has brought
this action pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”), seeking review of the final decision
of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security
(“Defendant” or “the Commissioner”)
denying her application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). This Court has jurisdiction over the
matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Presently before
the Court are the parties' competing motions for judgment
on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff's motion is denied and Defendant's motion
12, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed a Title II application
for DIB, alleging disability beginning August 2, 2010, due to
complex regional pain syndrome (“CRPS”).
Administrative Transcript (“T.”) 65, 130, 134.
Plaintiff's application was initially denied and she
timely requested a hearing, which was held before
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Timothy M.
McGuan on November 14, 2013. T. 39-64. On November 19, 2013,
the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. T. 16-30.
Plaintiff's request for review was denied by the Appeals
Council on July 8, 2015, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. T. 1-3. Plaintiff then
timely commenced this action.
THE ALJ'S DECISION
applied the five-step sequential evaluation promulgated by
the Commissioner for adjudicating disability claims.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). Initially, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements
of the Acton December 31, 2012. T. 21. At step one, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity from August 2, 2010, the alleged onset date, through
December 31, 2012, the date last insured. Id.
two, the ALJ determined that, through the date last insured,
Plaintiff had the severe impairments of moderate right carpal
tunnel syndrome, CRPS with pain in the wrist and elbow,
obesity, early spondylosis, and “a tiny C7-T1 disc
three, the ALJ considered Plaintiff's impairments and
found that, singly or in combination, they did not meet or
medically equal the severity of a listed impairment. T. 23.
In particular, the ALJ considered Listings 1.02 and 1.04, as
well as the neurological disorders found in section 11.00. T.
to proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that, through
the date last insured, Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as
defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a), with the following
additional limitations: no limitations in her ability to sit,
stand, or walk; can lift up to ten pounds frequently; cannot
use dominant upper extremity to lift, carry, finger, or
handle; should avoid concentrated exposure to cold
temperatures. T. 24.
four, the ALJ determined that, through the date last insured,
the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work. T.
28. At step five, the ALJ relied on a vocational expert's
testimony to find that there are other jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy and state-wide
that Plaintiff can perform, including receptionist and
telephone operator. T. 28-29. The ALJ accordingly found that
Plaintiff was not disabled as defined in the Act. T. 29.
Scope of Review
considering a claimant's challenge to the decision of the
Commissioner denying benefits under the Act, a district court
must accept the Commissioner's findings of fact, provided
that such findings are supported by “substantial
evidence” in the record. See 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) (the Commissioner's findings “as to any
fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be
conclusive”). Although the reviewing court must
scrutinize the whole record and examine evidence that
supports or detracts from both sides, Tejada v.
Apfel, 167 F.3d 770, 774 (2d Cir. 1998) (citation
omitted), “[i]f there is substantial evidence to
support the [Commissioner's] determination, it must be
upheld.” Selian v. Astrue, 708 F.3d 409, ...