United States District Court, W.D. New York
LATISHA M. HONER-ANTHONY, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
ELIZABETH A. WOLFORD UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
by counsel, Plaintiff Latisha M. Honer-Anthony
("Plaintiff) brings 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 (the "Commissioner" or
"Defendant") denying her application for disability
insurance benefits ("DIB"). The Court has
jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). Presently before the Court are the parties'
cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. 12; Dkt.
14) pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiffs motion
(Dkt. 12) is granted in part, the Commissioner's motion
(Dkt. 14) is denied, and this case is remanded to the
Commissioner for further administrative proceedings.
protectively filed an application for DIB on July 8, 2013,
with the Social Security Administration (the
"SSA"), alleging disability as of May 31, 2012.
(Dkt. 5 at 77, 132-33). Plaintiffs application was initially
denied. (Id. at 87-92). At Plaintiff s request,
administrative law judge ("ALJ") Stephen Cordovani
held a hearing on June 17, 2015. (Id. at 32-76). On
September 23, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision.
(Id. at 14-31). The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiffs request for review on January 6, 2017, rendering
the ALJ's determination the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Id. at 1-6). This action followed.
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) (quotation
marks omitted); 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
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). 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. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(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"). 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). If the
impairment meets or medically equals the criteria of a
Listing and meets the durational requirement (20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1509), 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 from the collective impairments.
See 20 C.F.R. § 4O4.l52O(e)-(f).
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. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(f). If the claimant can perform such
requirements, then he or she is not disabled. If the claimant
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. 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 his or her age, education,
and work experience. See Rosa v. Callahan, 168 F.3d
72, 77 (2d Cir. 1999); see also 20 C.F.R. §
The ALJ's Decision
determining whether Plaintiff was disabled, the ALJ applied
the five-step sequential evaluation set forth in 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520. Initially, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff met the insured status ...