United States District Court, W.D. New York
ARTHUR C. FERRY, Plaintiff,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Arthur C. Ferry (“Plaintiff”), represented by
counsel, brings this action under 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” or “Defendant”),
denying his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). Docket No. 1. The Court has jurisdiction
over the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Presently before the Court are the parties' competing
motions for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(c)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Docket
Nos. 9, 12, 13. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings (Docket
No. 9) is granted, and Defendant's motion (Docket No. 12)
is denied. The case is remanded to the Commissioner for
further proceedings consistent with this Decision and Order.
January 6, 2015, Plaintiff protectively filed applications
for DIB and SSI, alleging disability as of September 30,
2009, due to the following conditions: “reflex
sympathetic dystrophy of upper limbs, cervicolgia, thoracic
outlet syndrome, respiratory insufficiency, shoulder pain,
asthma, [and] learning disabled.” Administrative
Transcript (“T.”) 12, 95-96, 107-08, 119-20. The
claims were initially denied on May 12, 2015. T. 12, 121-28.
A video hearing was conducted on February 13, 2017, by
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Julia D. Gibbs.
T. 12, 39-87. Plaintiff appeared in Elmira, New York, and the
ALJ presided over the hearing from Alexandria, Virginia.
Id. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on June
21, 2017. T. 9-22. Plaintiff appealed the decision to the
Appeals Council, which denied his request for review on April
26, 2018, making the ALJ's decision the final
determination of the Commissioner. T. 1-3. This action
applied the five-step sequential evaluation promulgated by
the Commissioner for adjudicating disability claims.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a), 416.920(a).
The ALJ initially found that Plaintiff met the insured status
requirements of the Act through June 30, 2010. T. 14. At step
one of the sequential evaluation, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since September 30, 2009, the alleged onset date.
two, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the following
“severe” impairments: degenerative disc disease
of the cervical and lumbar spines; right shoulder disorder;
degenerative hip disorder; reflex sympathetic dystrophy of
the upper limb; learning disorder; and borderline
intellectual functioning. T. 14-15.
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments did not
singularly or in combination meet or medically equal the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. T. 15. The ALJ specifically
considered Listings 1.00 and 12.00 in making this
determination. T. 15-16.
proceeding to step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
to perform light work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except: “the work needs to
be able to be done either sitting or standing and allows the
worker to alternate between the two positions without leaving
the work site or stopping work activity. The claimant is
limited to frequent handling and fingering with the right
upper extremity. Also with the right upper extremity, the
claimant is not able to lift above shoulder level or lift
more than five pounds. The claimant is limited to work not
requiring more than a 6th grade math or reading
level.” T. 16.
four, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was unable to perform
any past relevant work. T. 20.
five, the ALJ found that, considering Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff could perform, including the representative
occupations of plastic hospital product assembler, small
parts assembler, and electronics worker. T. 21-22. The ALJ
accordingly found that Plaintiff was not disabled as defined
in the Act. T. 22.
district court may set aside the Commissioner's
determination that a claimant is not disabled only if the
factual findings are not supported by “substantial
evidence” or if the decision is based on legal error.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see also Green-Younger v.
Barnhart, 335 F.3d 99, 105-06 (2d Cir. 2003). The
district court must accept the Commissioner's findings of
fact, provided that such findings are supported by
“substantial evidence” in the record.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (the Commissioner's
findings “as to any fact, if supported by substantial
evidence, shall be conclusive”). “Substantial
evidence means ‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Shaw v. Chater, 221 F.3d
126, 131 (2d Cir. 2000) (quotation omitted). The reviewing
court nevertheless must scrutinize the whole record and
examine evidence that supports or detracts from both sides.
Tejada v. Apfel, 167 F.3d 770, 774 (2d Cir. 1998)