Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Snyder v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. New York

December 16, 2019

WAYNE D. SNYDER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          Elizabeth A. Wolford United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Represented by counsel, plaintiff Wayne D. Snyder ("Plaintiff) brings this action pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"), seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner") denying his applications for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). (Dkt. 1). This Court has jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Presently before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. 13; Dkt. 16), and Plaintiffs reply (Dkt. 17). For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiffs motion (Dkt. 13) is granted to the extent that the matter is remanded for further administrative proceedings consistent with this Decision and Order, and the Commissioner's motion (Dkt. 16) is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff protectively filed his applications for DIB and SSI on April 23, 2015. (Dkt. 6 at 18).[1] In his applications, Plaintiff alleged disability beginning October 24, 2013, due to spinal cysts, "right wrist fracture residuals," chronic upper back pain, headaches, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, spinal stenosis, depression, and anxiety. (Id. at 18, 241). Plaintiffs applications were initially denied on October 8, 2015. (Id. at 105-109). At Plaintiffs request, a hearing was held on December 1, 2016, before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Julia D. Gibbs. (Id. at 35-63, 121-28). On June 21, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (Id. at 15-34). Plaintiff requested Appeals Council review; his request was denied on April 19, 2018, making the ALJ's determination the Commissioner's final decision. (Id. at 6-9). This action followed.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         I. District Court Review

         "In reviewing a final decision of the [Social Security Administration ("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 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) (quotation omitted). 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) (quotation omitted); 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). However, "[f]he deferential standard of review for substantial evidence does not apply to the Commissioner's conclusions of law." Byam v. Bamhart, 336 F.3d 172, 179 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing Townley v. Heckler, 748 F.2d 109, 112 (2d Cir. 1984)).

         II. Disability Determination

         An ALJ follows 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 determines 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, in 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 have at least one severe impairment, the ALJ continues to step three.

         At step 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. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e).

         The ALJ 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. Rosa v. Callahan, 168 F.3d 72, 77 (2d Cir. 1999) (quotation omitted); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1560(c).

         DISCUSSION

         I. The ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.