United States District Court, W.D. New York
LUIS G. SERRANO, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge.
by counsel, Luis G. Serrano (“Plaintiff”)
instituted this action pursuant to Title XVI of the Social
Security Act (“the Act”), seeking review of the
final decision of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security
(“the Commissioner”) denying his application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). The Court
has jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1383(c).
protectvely filed for SSI on March 12, 2012, alleging
disability due to acute bronchial asthma, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), disruptive
behavior disorder, and emotional and learning problems. The
application was denied on September 10, 2012, and Plaintiff
filed a written request for a hearing. On November 19, 2012,
Administrative Law Judge Timothy J. Trost (“the
ALJ”) conducted a hearing at which Plaintiff appeared
pro se and testified. (T.33-48). The ALJ did not
call any witnesses.
2, 2014, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (T.9-32).
Plaintiff's request for review by the Appeals Council was
denied on November 2, 2015, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff timely
commenced this action.
The ALJ's Decision
first step of the sequential evaluation, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the March 12, 2012 application date. At step
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: history of bilateral wrist fractures requiring
surgical repair, with residual bilateral wrist pain; history
of left elbow fracture requiring surgical repair, with
residual elbow pain; and dysthymic disorder. (T.17). At step
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled a listed impairment found in 20 C.F.R. Pt.
404, Subpt. P, App. 1 (“the Listings”). (T.19).
next assessed Plaintiff as having the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work, with
certain nonexertional limitations due to his mental
impairments. (T.20-21). In particular, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff could learn, remember, and carry out simple job
functions; could concentrate on and attend to the duties of a
job with occasional supervision; could make appropriate
employment-related judgments; could respond to supervision
and coworkers in usual job settings; and could deal with
ordinary job-related stress.
fourth step, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had no past
relevant work. (T.26).
fifth step, the ALJ considered Plaintiff's age (20
years-old on the application date), his limited education
(completion of 10th or 11th grade), his
ability to communicate in English, and his RFC. The ALJ
determined that the transferability of job skills was not
material, because the Medical-Vocational Guidelines, 20
C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App'x 2 (“the
Grids”), supported a finding of “not
disabled” whether or not Plaintiff had transferable job
skills. (T.26). The ALJ then found that Plaintiff's
additional limitations had little or no effect on the
occupational base for unskilled sedentary work, and that
Grids Rule 201.24 directed a finding of “not
Scope of Review
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). The
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”). “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)
(quotation omitted). The reviewing court nevertheless 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). “The deferential standard of review for
substantial evidence does not apply to the Commissioner's
conclusions of law.” Byam v. Barnhart, 336
F.3d 172, 179 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing Townley v.
Heckler, 748 F.2d 109, 112 (2d Cir. 1984)).