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Koscelski v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, W.D. New York

December 30, 2019

DAVID KOSCELSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH HILLER, PLLC CORINNE MANFREDI, ESQ., KENNETH HILLER, ESQ. Counsel for Plaintiff

          U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL - REGION II BLAKELY PRYOR, ESQ., DENNIS CANNING, ESQ., JOSHUA KERSHNER, ESQ. Counsel for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

          William B. Mitchell Carter, U.S. Magistrate Judge

         The parties consented, in accordance with a Standing Order, to proceed before the undersigned. (Dkt. No. 14.) The court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The matter is presently before the court on the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's motion is granted in part, to the extent it seeks remand for further proceedings, and denied in part, and the Commissioner's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Plaintiff was born in 1958. (T. 98.) He has a four-year college degree. (T. 208.) Generally, Plaintiff's alleged disability consists of diabetes, cataracts, hearing loss, torn labrum in right shoulder, vertigo, “back surgery, ” depression, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. (T. 207.) His alleged disability onset date is April 22, 2014. (T. 98.) Plaintiff's past relevant work consists of administrative clerk. (T. 19, 208.)

         B. Procedural History

         On April 22, 2015, Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. (T. 98.) Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which he timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”). On October 10, 2017, Plaintiff appeared before the ALJ, Timothy M. McGuan. (T. 63-97.) On January 8, 2018, ALJ McGuan issued a written decision finding Plaintiff not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 7-24.) On October 24, 2018, the Appeals Council (“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-6.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of fact and conclusions of law. (T. 12-19.) First, the ALJ found Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 22, 2015. (T. 12.) Second, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the severe impairments of: diabetes mellitus with polyneuropathy, hearing loss, and vertigo. (Id.) Third, the ALJ found Plaintiff did not have an impairment that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments located in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix. 1. (T. 14.) Fourth, the ALJ found Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b); except Plaintiff:

must be allowed to alternate between sitting and standing at his work station after a period of one hour; can occasionally do all postural activities as defined in the regulations; must avoid noise greater than is found in an office environment; and must avoid dangerous machinery and unprotected heights.

(Id.)[1] Fifth, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was capable of performing his past relevant work as an administrative clerk. (T. 19.)

         II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION

         A. ...


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