United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA JUDGE
by counsel, plaintiff Warner Martin Michels
(“Plaintiff”) brings 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 (the “Commissioner”
or “Defendant”) denying his application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). The Court
has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Presently before the Court are the
parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's
motion is granted to the extent that this case is remanded to
the Commissioner for further administrative proceedings
consistent with this Decision and Order, and the
Commissioner's motion is denied.
protectively filed an application for DIB in May 2012,
alleging disability as of February 1, 2011 due to a learning
disorder, attention deficit disorder, and anxiety.
Administrative Transcript (“T.”) 144-52, 186.
Plaintiff's application was initially denied. T. 69-76.
At Plaintiff's request, a hearing was held before
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Grenville W.
Harrop, Jr. on August 8, 2013. T. 26-54. On May 28, 2014, ALJ
Harrop issued a decision in which he found that Plaintiff was
not disabled as defined in the Act. T. 12-21. On June 10,
2012, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, rendering the ALJ's determination the
Commissioner's final decision. T. 1-6. This action
The ALJ's Decision
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act though December 31, 2016. T. 14. At
step one of the five-step sequential evaluation, see
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since February 1, 2011, the alleged onset date.
Id. At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
suffered from the severe impairments of anxiety, depression,
and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
(“ADHD”) and the non-severe impairment of
hyperlipidemia. Id. At step three, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of any
listed impairment. T. 15. The ALJ particularly considered
section 4.00 (cardiovascular impairments) and Listings 12.04
(depressive, bipolar, and related disorders) and 12.06
(anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorders) in reaching this
determination. T. 15-16.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
retained the RFC to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels with the following non-exertional
limitations: minimal to no limitations in the ability to
follow and understand simple directions and to perform simple
tasks independently; moderate limitations in the ability to
maintain attention and concentration, to keep a regular
schedule, to learn new tasks, to perform complex tasks
independently, to make appropriate decisions, to relate
adequately with others, and to appropriately deal with
stress. T. 15-16.
four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to perform any
past relevant work. T. 20. At step five, the ALJ relied on
the testimony of a vocational expert to conclude that,
considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in
the national economy that Plaintiff could perform.
Id. Accordingly, the ALJ found Plaintiff not
disabled. T. 21.
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).
“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) (internal quotation omitted). 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, 417
(2d Cir. 2013). “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).
Plaintiff makes the following arguments in support of his
motion for judgment on the pleadings: (1) the AlJ failed to
properly consider Plaintiff's learning disorder; (2) the
ALJ's RFC finding was not in functional terms and
therefore frustrates meaningful review; and (3) the ALJ's
credibility determination was not supported by substantial
evidence. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds
that remand of this matter for further administrative
proceedings is necessary.
Consideration of ...