United States District Court, W.D. New York
OFFICES OF KENNETH A. HILLER Attorneys for Plaintiff
ELIZABETH ANN HUANGS, of Counsel
P. KENNEDY ACTING UNITED STATES ATTORNEY Attorney for
Defendant KATHRYN SARA POLLACK Special Assistant United
States Attorney, of Counsel Federal Centre
STEPHEN P. CONTE Regional Chief Counsel United States Social
Security Administration Office of the General Counsel, of
DECISION AND ORDER
G. FOSCHIO, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
17, 2016, the parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), to proceed before the undersigned. (Dkt. No. 14). The
court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). The matter is presently before the court on
the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, filed by Plaintiff on December 27, 2015 (Dkt. 9),
and by Defendant on February 26, 2016 (Dkt. 12). For the
reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion is denied and
the Commissioner's motion is granted.
Mary Ann Young (“Plaintiff”), brings this action
pursuant to the Social Security Act (“the Act”),
seeking review of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security
(“the Commissioner” or “Defendant”)
decision denying her application for disability benefits for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits
under Title II of the Act, and Social Security Disability
Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits under Title XVI of
the Act, together (“disability benefits”).
Plaintiff, born on June 27, 1974 (R. 156), alleges that she
became disabled on May 18, 2012, when she stopped working as
a result of a petite and grand mal seizure disorder,
headaches, learning disability, reading comprehension,
depression, irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS”),
gastric ulcer, and lumbago (lower back pain) (R. 203).
application for disability benefits was initially denied by
Defendant on October 23, 2012 (R. 84), and, pursuant to
Plaintiff's request on November 14, 2012, a hearing was
held before Administrative Law Judge Donald T. McDougall
(“Judge McDougall”) or (“the ALJ”) on
December 6, 2013, in Buffalo, New York, at which Plaintiff,
represented by Kenneth A. Hiller, Esq. (“Hiller”)
appeared and testified. (R. 36-81). Vocational expert
(“VE”) Joe Pierson also appeared and testified.
(R. 70-81). The ALJ's decision denying Plaintiff's
claim was rendered on May 30, 2014. (R. 16-29). Plaintiff
requested review by the Appeals Council, and on June 4, 2015,
the ALJ's decision became Defendant's final decision
when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review. (R. 1-3). This action followed on July 31, 2015, with
Plaintiff alleging that the ALJ erred by failing to find her
disabled. (Dkt. No. 1).
December 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion for judgment on
the pleadings (“Plaintiff's motion”),
accompanied by a memorandum of law (Dkt. No. 9)
(“Plaintiff's Memorandum”). Defendant filed,
on February 26, 2016, Defendant's motion for judgment on
the pleadings (“Defendant's motion”),
accompanied by a memorandum of law (Dkt. No. 12)
(“Defendant's Memorandum”). Plaintiff filed a
reply to Defendant's motion on the pleadings on March 18,
2016 (“Plaintiff's Reply Memorandum”) (Dkt.
No. 13). Oral argument was deemed unnecessary.
district court may set aside the Commissioner's
determination that a claimant is not disabled if the factual
findings are not supported by substantial evidence, or the
decision is based on legal error. See 42 U.S.C.
405(g); 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.'” Shaw v.
Chater, 221 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2000).
Standard and Scope of Judicial Review
standard of review for courts reviewing administrative
findings regarding disability benefits, 42 U.S.C.
§§ 401-34 and 1381-85, is whether the
administrative law judge's findings are supported by
substantial evidence. Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971). Substantial evidence requires enough
evidence that a reasonable person would "accept as
adequate to support a conclusion." Consolidated
Edison Co. v. N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938). When
evaluating a claim, the Commissioner must consider
"objective medical facts, diagnoses or medical opinions
based on these facts, subjective evidence of pain or
disability (testified to by the claimant and others), and . .
. educational background, age and work experience."
Dumas v. Schweiker, 712 F.2d 1545, 1550 (2d Cir.
1983) (quoting Miles v. Harris, 645 F.2d 122, 124
(2d Cir. 1981)). If the opinion of the treating physician is
supported by medically acceptable techniques and results from
frequent examinations, and the opinion supports the
administrative record, the treating physician's opinion
will be given controlling weight. Schisler v.
Sullivan, 3 F.3d 563, 567 (2d Cir. 1993); 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1527(d); 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(d). The
Commissioner's final determination will be affirmed,
absent legal error, if it ...