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T. D. v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

June 21, 2018

T. D., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          T.D. PRO SE.

          U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. PRASHANT TAMASKAR, ESQ. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II Counsel for Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          William B. Mitchell Carter U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         This 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. 4, 21.).

         Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by T.D. (“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. 13, 18.) For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is denied and Defendant's motion is granted.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born in 1961. (T. 87.) She completed two years of college. (T. 207.) Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists of depression, high cholesterol, anxiety, panic disorder, knee condition with pain, heart arrhythmia, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a thyroid condition. (T. 206.) Her alleged disability onset date is November 30, 2011. (T. 87.) Her date last insured is March 31, 2017. (Id.) She previously worked as a medical transcriptionist and reservation agent. (T. 208.)

         B. Procedural History

         On July 25, 2013, Plaintiff applied for a period of Disability Insurance Benefits (“SSD”) under Title II, and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI, of the Social Security Act. (T. 87.) Plaintiff's applications were initially denied, after which she timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”). On July 22, 2015, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ, Brian LeCours. (T. 30-68.) On August 13, 2015, ALJ LeCours issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 8-29.) On December 30, 2016, the Appeals Council (“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-6.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 13-24.) First, the ALJ found Plaintiff met the insured status requirements through March 31, 2017 and Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 30, 2011. (T. 13.) Second, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the severe impairments of affective disorder, anxiety disorder, and right knee iliotibital band tendonitis/chondromalacia of the patella. (Id.) Third, the ALJ found 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. 15.) Fourth, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium work[1], except:

she can lift, carry, push, and pull up to 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; can sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday; can stand/walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday; can occasionally kneel and crouch; can never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; must avoid concentrated exposure to hazardous conditions, such as unprotected heights and dangerous machinery; can perform work consisting of unskilled tasks requiring little or no judgment to do simple duties that can be learned on the job in a short period of time; and can have minimal interaction with the general public and occasional interaction with coworkers and supervisors.

(T. 16.) Fifth, the ALJ determined 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. 22-23.)

         II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

         A. Plaintiff's Arguments

         Plaintiff makes one argument in support of her motion for judgment on the pleadings. Plaintiff argues the RFC as determined by the ALJ is not supported by substantial evidence in the ...


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