United States District Court, N.D. New York
OFFICES OF STEVEN R. DOLSON Attorney for Plaintiff
SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Office of Regional General Counsel
Attorney for Defendant
R. DOLSON, ESQ., VERNON NORWOOD, ESQ. Special Assistant U.S.
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER 
J. STEWART, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action, Plaintiff June S. moves, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), for review of a decision by the Commissioner of
Social Security denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”). Presently pending are
Plaintiff's and Defendant's Motions for Judgment on
the Pleadings pursuant to this Court's General Order 18.
Dkt. Nos. 10 & 12. Based upon the following discussion,
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is
granted and the case is ordered remanded to
the Commissioner for further proceedings. Defendant's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is
was born on February 22, 1952. Dkt. No. 9, Admin. Tr.
[hereinafter “Tr.”] at p. 268. She filed an
application for DIB on March 6, 2011and for SSI on April 1,
2011. Tr. at p. 268-80. These applications alleged a
disability onset date of June 11, 2010. Tr. at p. 268. The
basis for the claimed disability was fibromyalgia, bipolar
disorder, depression, chronic pain, and fatigue. Tr. at p.
272. Plaintiff has a high school education and past work
experience as typist/administrative assistant. Tr. at pp. 23
& 298. Plaintiff's applications were denied on
initial review. Tr. at pp. 60, 64, & 67. On August 30,
2013, a Hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) and a decision was issued. Tr. at pp.
37-47. Upon appeal, the Social Security Administration's
Appeals Council remanded the matter for further proceedings
before the ALJ. Tr. at pp. 53-55. Plaintiff appeared for a
second administrative hearing at which she and a vocational
expert testified. Tr. at pp. 640-64. On August 18, 2015, ALJ
John P. Ramos issued an unfavorable decision finding
Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. at pp. 15-25. On May 10, 2017,
the Appeals Council concluded there was no basis to review
the ALJ's decision, thus rendering the ALJ's decision
the final determination of the Commissioner. Tr. at pp. 8-10.
This action followed.
Standard of Review
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the proper standard of review for
this Court is not to employ a de novo review, but
rather to discern whether substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner's findings and that the correct legal
standards have been applied. See Rivera v. Sullivan,
923 F.2d 964, 967 (2d Cir. 1991); Urtz v. Callahan,
965 F.Supp. 324, 325-26 (N.D.N.Y. 1997) (citing Johnson
v. Bowen, 817 F.2d 983, 985 (2d Cir. 1987)). Succinctly
defined, substantial evidence is “more than a mere
scintilla” of evidence scattered throughout the
administrative record; rather, it is “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Consol. Edison Co. of New
York v. N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938); see also
Williams ex. rel. Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d 255, 258
(2d Cir. 1988). “To determine on appeal whether an
[Administrative Law Judge's] findings are supported by
substantial evidence, a reviewing court considers the whole
record, examining the evidence from both sides, because an
analysis of the substantiality of the evidence must also
include that which detracts from its weight.”
Williams ex. rel. Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d at
Administrative Law Judge must set forth the crucial factors
supporting the decision with sufficient specificity.
Ferraris v. Heckler, 728 F.2d 582, 587 (2d Cir.
1984). Where the ALJ's findings are supported by
substantial evidence, the court may not interject its
interpretation of the administrative record. Williams ex
rel. Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d at 258; 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). However, where the weight of the evidence does
not meet the requirement for substantial evidence or a
reasonable basis for doubt exists as to whether correct legal
principles were applied, the ALJ's decision may not be
affirmed. Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d at 986.
Determination of Disability
considered disabled within the meaning of the Social Security
Act, a plaintiff must establish an “inability to engage
in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any
medically determinable physical or mental impairment which
can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Furthermore,
the claimant's physical or mental impairments must be of
such severity as to prevent engagement in any kind of
substantial gainful work which exists in the national
economy. Id. at § 423(d)(2)(A).
determining whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner
follows a five-step analysis set forth in the Social Security
Administration Regulations. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. At Step
One, the Commissioner “considers whether the claimant
is currently engaged in gainful activity.” Berry v.
Schweiker, 675 F.2d 464, 467 (2d Cir. 1982). If the
claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, he or
she is not disabled and the inquiry ends. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(b). If the claimant is not engaged in substantial
gainful activity, the Commissioner proceeds to Step Two and
assesses whether the claimant suffers from a severe
impairment that significantly limits his or her physical or
mental ability to do basic work activities. Id. at
§ 416.920(c). If the claimant suffers from a severe
impairment, the Commissioner considers at Step Three whether
such impairment(s) meets or equals an impairment listed in
Appendix 1, in Part 404, Subpart P of the Regulations.
Id. at § 416.920(d). The Commissioner makes
this assessment without considering vocational factors such
as age, education, and work experience. Berry v.
Schweiker, 675 F.2d at 467. Where the claimant has such
an impairment the inquiry ceases as he or she is presumed to
be disabled and unable to perform substantial gainful
activity. Id. If the claimant's impairment(s)
does not meet or equal the listed impairments, the
Commissioner proceeds to Step Four and considers whether the
claimant has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”)to perform his or her past relevant work
despite the existence of severe impairments. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(e). If the claimant cannot perform his or her past
work, then at Step Five, the Commissioner considers whether
the claimant can perform any other work available in the
national economy. Berry v. Schweiker, 675 F.2d at
467; 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(f).
the burden of proof lies with the claimant to show that his
or her impairment(s) prevents a return to previous employment
(Steps One through Four). Berry v. Schweiker, 675
F.2d at 467. If the claimant meets that burden, the burden
then shifts to the Commissioner at Step Five to establish,
with specific reference to medical evidence, that the
claimant's physical and/or mental impairment(s) are not
of such severity as to prevent him or her from performing
work that is available within the national economy.
Id.; 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A); see also
White v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 910 F.2d
64, 65 (2d Cir. 1990). In making this showing at Step Five,
the claimant's RFC must be considered along with ...