United States District Court, N.D. New York
OFFICES OF STEVEN R. DOLSON Counsel for Plaintiff STEVEN R.
SECURITY ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF GENERAL COUNSEL-REGION I
Counsel for Defendant KEVIN MICHAEL PARRINGTON, ESQ. Special
Assistant U.S. Attorney
DECISION AND ORDER
T. SUDDABY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court, in this action filed by Raymonda C.
(“Plaintiff”) against the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Defendant”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), are (1) Plaintiff's
motion for judgment on the pleadings, and (2) Defendant's
motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 12.) For
the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion for
judgment on the pleadings is denied and Defendant's
motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted.
was born in 1970, making her 45 years old at her application
filing date and 47 years old at the date of the ALJ's
decision. Plaintiff reported having an 11th grade education.
Plaintiff alleges disability due to degenerative disc
disease, lumbar spine impairment, rheumatoid arthritis,
right-side nerve damage, left knee impairment, bilateral foot
impairment, bilateral hand impairment, severe asthma, and
applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental
Security Income on October 7, 2015. Plaintiff's
application was initially denied on January 21, 2016, after
which she timely requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). Plaintiff appeared at a video
hearing before ALJ John P. Ramos on February 6, 2018. On
March 19, 2018, the ALJ issued a written decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T.
15-35.) On January 9, 2019, the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
The ALJ's Decision
in his decision, the ALJ made the following seven findings of
fact and conclusions of law. (T. 18-35.) First, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since her application filing date. (T. 18.) Second,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff's degenerative disc disease
of the thoracic and lumbar spine are severe impairments,
noting that these two impairments account for all her general
musculoskeletal-related complaints including her knee pain;
the ALJ also found that her alleged or documented digestive
disorders, respiratory disorders, history of ankle surgery,
hand, neck and shoulder impairments, urinary incontinence,
vision problems, and mental disorders are not severe
impairments. (T 18-21.) Third, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff's severe impairments do not meet or medically
equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. § 404,
Subpart P, App. 1 (the “Listings”). (T. 23-24.)
The ALJ considered Listings 1.00, 11.00 and 14.00 generally,
and 1.02, 1.04 and 14.09 specifically. (Id.) Fourth,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform the “full range
of sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(a) and
416.967(a).” (T. 24.) Fifth, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff is able to perform her past relevant work as a
telemarketer as actually and as generally performed. (T.
32-34.) Sixth, the ALJ found that Plaintiff remains able to
perform other jobs in the national economy pursuant to the
Medical-Vocational Rules for sedentary work. (T. 34-35.) The
ALJ therefore concluded that Plaintiff is not disabled.
The Parties' Briefing on Their Motions
Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings
in her memorandum of law, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred
in formulating the RFC finding without relying on a competent
medical source opinion and failed to adequately develop the
record related to the lack of a sufficient medical opinion.
(Dkt. No. 9, at 5-12 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) More
specifically, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ relied on his own
lay opinion and assessment of the medical evidence by
purportedly affording greater weight to the opinion of the
consultative examiner but rejecting most of his opinion.
(Id. at 5-7.) Plaintiff also argues that the ALJ
ignored the absence of an opinion related to Plaintiff's
functioning post-surgery and failed to develop the record by