United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge .
by counsel, Steve Hollaway (“Plaintiff”) has
brought 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
(“Defendant” or “the Commissioner”)
denying his application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). This Court has jurisdiction over the
matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Presently before
the Court are the parties' competing motions for judgment
on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules
of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff's motion is denied and Defendant's motion
November 19, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed an
application for SSI, alleging disability beginning November
21, 2009 due to cardiac conditions, dyslipidemia, depression,
and anxiety. Administrative Transcript (“T.”) 83,
138-45. Plaintiff's application was initially denied and
he timely requested a hearing, which was held before
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) David S.
Lewandowski on August 15, 2014. T. 34-82. At the hearing,
Plaintiff amended his alleged onset date to September 27,
2012. T. 10.
February 19, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. T.
7-27. Plaintiff's request for review was denied by the
Appeals Council on September 23, 2016, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. T. 1-6.
Plaintiff then timely commenced this action.
THE ALJ'S DECISION
applied the five-step sequential evaluation promulgated by
the Commissioner for adjudicating disability claims.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). Initially, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements
of the Act through December 31, 2014. T. 12.
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from September 27, 2012, the
amended alleged onset date. T. 12. At step two, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of
coronary artery disease with stent placement and status post
myocardial infarction, hypertension with headaches, kidney
disease, and obesity, and the non-severe impairments of cysts
in his liver, vision problems, major depressive disorder, and
post-traumatic stress disorder with substance conditions. T.
13-16. At step three, the ALJ considered Plaintiff's
impairments and found that, singly or in combination, they
did not meet or medically equal the severity of a listed
impairment. T. 16. In particular, the ALJ considered Listings
4.02, 4.04, 6.02, 6.04, and Sections 4.00 and 11.00 in
reaching this determination. T. 16-17.
to proceeding to step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff
had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1567(b), except that he must avoid industrial hazards,
can only occasionally perform postural activities, and cannot
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. T. 17.
four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform
any past relevant work. T. 22. At step five, the ALJ relied
on the testimony of a vocational expert to find that, taking
into account Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in
the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, including
the representative occupations housekeeping cleaner, ticket
seller, and mail clerk. T. 23-24. The ALJ accordingly found
that Plaintiff was not disabled as defined in the Act. T. 24.
Scope of Review
considering a claimant's challenge to the decision of the
Commissioner denying benefits under the Act, a 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”). 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, ...