United States District Court, N.D. New York
OLINSKY LAW GROUP COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFF
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL -
REGION II COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT
D. OLINSKY, ESQ. JASON PECK, ESQ.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER
William B. Mitchell Carter, U.S. Magistrate Judge
matter was referred to me, for all proceedings and entry of a
final judgment, pursuant to the Social Security Pilot
Program, N.D.N.Y. General Order No. 18, and in accordance
with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P.
73, N.D.N.Y. Local Rule 73.1 and the consent of the parties.
(Dkt. Nos. 22, 23.)
before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by
Mary Jane Gandino (“Plaintiff”) against the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or
“the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are the parties'
cross- motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 19,
20.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion
is denied and Defendant's motion is granted.
was born in 1969. (T. 89.) She completed high school. (T. 173.)
Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists of
migraines, pain in her knees, back, feet, and between her
shoulder blades, fatigue, stiffness in the joints and back,
and depression. (T. 177.) Her alleged disability onset date
is June 3, 2008. (T. 89.) Her date last insured is December
31, 2013. (Id.) She previously worked as a tuning
supporter for a cable filter company. (T. 173.)
2010, Plaintiff applied for a period of Disability Insurance
Benefits (“SSD”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act. (T. 89.) Plaintiff's applications were initially
denied, after which she timely requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”). On June 9,
2011, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ, Bruce S. Fein. (T.
43-88.) On September 22, 2011, ALJ Fein issued a written
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social
Security Act. (T. 25-42.) On May 8, 2013 the Appeals Council
(“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for review,
rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (T. 1-5.) Plaintiff appealed in the Northern
District of New York and on December 12, 2014, the
Commissioner's decision was reversed and remanded
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 405(g), sentence four, for further
proceedings. (S. 630-650.) On April 17, 2015, the AC issued a
remand order for further proceedings consistent with the
order of the district court. (S. 651-671, 672-676.) On
September 3, 2015 Plaintiff again appeared before ALJ Fein.
(S. 105-139.) On November 9, 2015, ALJ Fein issued a written
decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social
Security Act. (T. 503-517.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely
sought judicial review in this Court.
The ALJ's Decision
in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of
fact and conclusions of law. (T. 503-517.) First, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
through December 31, 2013 and Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since June 3, 2008. (T. 503.)
Second, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe
impairments of fibromyalgia, Raynaud's phenomenon,
migraine headaches, and asthma. (T. 504.) Third, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment that meets or
medically equals one of the listed impairments located in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix. 1. (T. 507.) Fourth,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform:
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. [§§] 404.1567(b)
and 416.967(b) and is able to lift/carry up to 10 [lbs.] and
20 lbs. frequently, sit 6 hours with normal breaks[, ]
stand/walk 6 hours [with] normal breaks and is occasionally
able to perform all postural activities including stooping,
balancing and climbing stairs but should avoid climbing
Manipulative tasks such as handling/fingering/feeling can be
performed frequently. Environmental limitations require
avoidance of concentrated exposure to extreme cold/heat,
irritants such as fumes/odors/gases/dust/poorly ventilated
areas and unprotected heights. [Plaintiff] should perform
goal-oriented work instead of production rate or pace work.
(T. 508.) Fifth, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
was incapable of performing her past relevant work; however,
there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy Plaintiff could perform. (T. 515-516.)
THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION
makes two separate arguments in support of her motion for
judgment on the pleadings. First, Plaintiff argues the ALJ
failed to properly consider Plaintiff's mental
impairments and limitations. (Dkt. No. 19 at 20-25 [Pl.'s
Mem. of Law].) Second, and lastly, Plaintiff argues the RFC
determination was not supported by substantial evidence.
(Id. at 25-27.)
response, Defendant makes two arguments. First, Defendant
argues the ALJ adequately considered Plaintiff's mental
impairments and limitations. (Dkt. No. 20 at 8-13 [Def.'s
Mem. of Law].) Second, and lastly, Defendant argues
substantial evidence supported the RFC finding for a limited
range of unskilled light work. (Id. at 13-16.)
RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD
Standard of Review
reviewing a denial of disability benefits may not determine
de novo whether an individual is disabled. See 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Wagner v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856,
860 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, the Commissioner's
determination will only be reversed if the correct legal
standards were not applied, or it was not supported by
substantial evidence. See Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d
983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987) (“Where there is a reasonable
basis for doubt whether the ALJ applied correct legal
principles, application of the substantial evidence standard
to uphold a finding of no disability creates an unacceptable
risk that a claimant will be deprived of the right to have
her disability determination made according to the correct
legal principles.”); Grey v. Heckler, 721 F.2d
41, 46 (2d Cir. 1983); Marcus v. Califano, 615 F.2d
23, 27 (2d Cir. 1979).
evidence” is evidence that amounts to “more than
a mere scintilla, ” and has been defined as “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427 (1971).
Where evidence is deemed susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, the Commissioner's conclusion
must be upheld. See Rutherford v. Schweiker, 685
F.2d 60, 62 (2d Cir. 1982).
determine on appeal whether the ALJ's findings are
supported by substantial evidence, a reviewing court
considers the whole record, examining evidence from both
sides, because an analysis of the substantiality of the
evidence must also include that which detracts ...