United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Billyjo McAllister ("Plaintiff) brings this action
pursuant to the Social Security Act ("the Act")
seeking review of the final decision of the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security that denied his application
for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and
supplemental security income ("SSI") under Titles
II and XVI of the Act. (Dkt. 1). The Court has jurisdiction
over this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Presently
before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for
judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(c). (Dkt. 10; Dkt. 13). For the following
reasons, Plaintiffs motion (Dkt. 10) is granted in part, the
Commissioner's motion (Dkt. 13) is denied, and this
matter is remanded to the Commissioner for further
September 17, 2013, Plaintiff applied for DIB with the Social
Security Administration ("the SSA"). (Dkt. 7 at
60-65).He alleged disability beginning February 8,
2013, due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
("COPD"), heart problems, scoliosis, compressed
discs in his back, a recent heart attack, and high
cholesterol. (Id. at 162, 166). On September 17,
2015, Plaintiff and a vocational expert ("VE")
appeared and testified before Administrative Law Judge
Michael W. Devlin ("the ALJ"). (Id. at
26-49). Plaintiff subsequently filed an application for SSI
on November 13, 2015. (Id. at 153-61). On February
1, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was
not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (Id. at
14-21). On May 11, 2017, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiffs request for review. (Id. at 5-7).
Thereafter, Plaintiff commenced this action seeking review of
the Commissioner's final decision. (Dkt. 1).
District Court Review
reviewing a final decision of the SSA, this Court is limited
to determining whether the SSA's conclusions were
supported by substantial evidence in the record and were
based on a correct legal standard." Talavera v.
Astrue, 697 F.3d 145, 151 (2d Cir. 2012); see
also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Act holds that a
decision by the Commissioner is "conclusive" if it
is supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). "Substantial evidence means more than a mere
scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."
Moran v. Astrue, 569 F.3d 108, 112 (2d Cir. 2009).
It is not the Court's function to "determine de
novo whether [the claimant] is disabled."
Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1998);
see also Wagner v. Sec 'y of Health & Human
Servs., 906 F.2d 856, 860 (2d Cir. 1990) (holding that
review of the Secretary's decision is not de
novo and that the Secretary's findings are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence).
must follow a five-step sequential evaluation to determine
whether a claimant is disabled within the meaning of the Act.
See Parker v. City of New York, 476 U.S. 467, 470-71
(1986). At step one, the ALJ must determine whether the
claimant is engaged in substantial gainful work activity.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b).
If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, the ALJ proceeds
to step two and determines whether the claimant has an
impairment, or combination of impairments, that is
"severe" within the meaning of the Act, meaning
that it imposes significant restrictions on the
claimant's ability to perform basic work activities.
Id. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If the
claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, the analysis concludes with a finding of
"not disabled." If the claimant does, the ALJ
continues to step three.
three, the ALJ examines whether a claimant's impairment
meets or medically equals the criteria of a listed impairment
in Appendix 1 of Subpart P of Regulation No. 4 (the
"Listings"). Id. §§ 404.1520(d),
416.920(d). If the impairment meets or medically equals the
criteria of a Listing and meets the durational requirement
(id. §§ 404.1509, 416.909), the claimant
is disabled. If not, the ALJ determines the claimant's
residual functional capacity ("RFC"), which is the
ability to perform physical or mental work activities on a
sustained basis, notwithstanding limitations for the
collective impairments. See Id. §§
then proceeds to step four and determines whether the
claimant's RFC permits the claimant to perform the
requirements of his or her past relevant work. Id.
§§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f). If the claimant can
perform such requirements, then he or she is not disabled. If
he or she cannot, the analysis proceeds to the fifth and
final step, wherein the burden shifts to the Commissioner to
show that the claimant is not disabled. Id.
§§ 404.1520(g), 416.920(g). To do so, the
Commissioner must present evidence to demonstrate that the
claimant "retains a residual functional capacity to
perform alternative substantial gainful work which exists in
the national economy" in light of the claimant's
age, education, and work experience. See Rosa v.
Callahan, 168 F.3d 72, 77 (2d Cir. 1999) (quotation
marks omitted); see also 20 C.F.R. §