Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Frazer v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 22, 2018

ISHMEAL FRAZER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          LAW OFFICES OF STEVEN R. DOLSON COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF

          U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT

          STEVEN R. DOLSON, ESQ. HASEEB FATMI, ESQ.

          MEMORANDUM- DECISION AND ORDER

          CHRISTIAN F. HUMMEL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by plaintiff Ishmeal[1]Frazer against the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings and Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. Dkt. Nos. 10, 12. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings is denied and Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted. The Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiff's disability benefits is affirmed, and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born in 1988, making him twenty-four years old at the alleged onset date and twenty-six years old at the date of the ALJ's decision. T. 204.[2] Plaintiff reported obtaining an Associate's degree in information technology and, at the time of the hearing, was working part-time toward a Bachelor's degree in biology. Id. at 77-78. Plaintiff has past work as a customer service clerk, cab driver, fast food worker, and truck driver. Id. at 79-80. Generally, Plaintiff alleges disability due to lumbar spine impairments including a herniated disc at ¶ 4-L5, a compressed nerve at ¶ 5-S1, and lumbar radiculopathy; neck/head pain; a bulging disc at the C6 level of the cervical spine; a post-concussion status; chronic headaches; and anxiety. Id. at 111-12.

         B. Procedural History

         Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits on October 1, 2013, and for Supplemental Security Income on October 17, 2013, alleging in both applications disability beginning September 14, 2012. T. 204-17. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially on December 16, 2013, after which he timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Id. at 7. Plaintiff appeared at a hearing before ALJ Gregory M. Hamel on February 10, 2015. Id. at 73-110. On April 23, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act. Id. at 8-31. On September 20, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Id. at 1. Plaintiff commenced this action on November 6, 2016. See Dkt. No. 1 (“Compl.”).

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         First, the ALJ found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2016. T. 13. Second, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 14, 2012, the alleged onset date. Id. Third, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's alleged impairments including degenerative disc disease (“DDD”) of the lumbar spine with radiculopathy, cervical strain, migraine headaches, and an anxiety disorder are severe. Id. Fourth, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, App. 1 (the “Listings”). Id. at 14-15. Specifically, the ALJ considered listings 1.04 (disorders of the spine) and 12.06 (anxiety-related disorders). Id. Fifth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except

the claimant can only occasionally climb stairs, balance, stoop, knee[l], crouch, and crawl; but never climb ladders or similar devices or work at hazardous environments such as at heights or around dangerous machinery (which does not include driving or normal household activities). Furthermore, the claimant cannot perform tasks that require more than occasional public contact; and he cannot focus on tasks that are more than routine and repetitive in nature.

Id. at 16. Sixth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work. Id. at 25. Seventh, the ALJ determined that there are jobs that exist in significant concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled.

         D. Arguments

         1. Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         Generally, in support of his motion for judgment on the pleadings, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ committed reversible error by failing to consider the medical source statement of orthopedic surgeon Richard Byrne, M.D. Dkt. No. 10 at 3-6 (Pl.'s Mem. of Law). Plaintiff argues that the RFC should have contained a reaching limitation. Id.at 4. Further, plaintiff contends that the ALJ failed to address Dr. Byrne's opinion in the decision, specifically his opined limitations regarding no repetitive neck motions; no repetitive bending, stooping, or reaching activity; and only occasional (up to four times hourly) pushing, pulling, or lifting objects no more than five to ten pounds. Id. at 4. Plaintiff also argues that Dr. Byrne's opinion is supported by lumbar and cervical spine reports. Id. He further contends that the opinion is supported by consultative examiner Elke Lorensen, M.D., who assessed moderate restrictions for reaching and “turning the head to the right.” Id. Plaintiff also notes that a cervical spine impairment has been documented in independent medical examiner Paul Kerschner, D.C.'s examination findings, neurologist Hassan Shukri, M.D's notes reporting cervical radicular symptom, and Thomas Masten, M.D.'s[3] diagnosis of cervical radicular pain. Id.

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's failure to address Dr. Byrne's opinion is not harmless error because consideration of this opinion was required for an accurate assessment of Plaintiff's RFC and because significant limitations in reaching or handling may eliminate a large number of occupations. Dkt. No. 10 at 4-5. Plaintiff also argues that the ALJ discounted the reaching limitations assessed by Dr. Lorensen without the benefit of analyzing the similar limitations assigned by Dr. Byrne. Id. at 5. Plaintiff argues that a reaching limitation is appropriate and would reduce the number of jobs available for him to perform at Step Five because the jobs cited by the ALJ require either frequent or constant reaching. Id.

         2. Defendant's Motion for ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.