United States District Court, N.D. New York
DECISION & ORDER
J. MCAVOY, SR. U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Nicholas C. brings this action pursuant to the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), for review of a final
determination by the Commissioner of Social Security denying
her application for benefits. Plaintiff alleges that the
Administrative Law Judge's decision denying his
application for benefits was not supported by substantial
evidence and was contrary to the applicable legal standards.
Pursuant to Northern District of New York General Order No.
8, the Court proceeds as if both parties had accompanied
their briefs with a motion for judgment on the pleadings.
applied for Title II Social Security benefits on January 29,
2015. See Social Security Administrative Record
(“R”), dkt. # 8, at 211. The Social Security
Administration denied Plaintiff's application on March
19, 2015. Id. at 91. Plaintiff appealed, and
Administrative Law Judge Gretchen Mary Greisler held a
hearing on June 6, 2017. The ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision on July 19, 2017. See R. 11-28. Plaintiff
appealed, and the Social Security Appeals council denied his
request for review on August 22, 2018. Id. at 1.
Plaintiff then made a timely application to U.S. District
Court. This Court has jurisdiction over the ALJ's
decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and
Court will assume familiarity with the facts and set forth
only those facts relevant to the Court's decision.
who injured himself at work and received workers'
compensation in 2011, alleges Social Security disability due
to: cervical myalgia; degenerative disc disease; occipital
headache, and depression. R. at 78.
THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DECISION
question before the ALJ was wether Plaintiff was disabled
under the Social Security Act. The ALJ engaged in the
five-step analysis required by 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a) to
determine whether a claimant qualifies for disability
benefits. See R. at 14-28.
The Social Security Administration regulations outline the
five-step, sequential evaluation process used to determine
whether a claimant is disabled: (1) whether the claimant is
currently engaged in substantial gainful activity; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe impairment or combination
of impairments; (3) whether the impairment meets or equals
the severity of the specified impairments in the Listing of
Impairments; (4) based on a “residual functional
capacity” assessment, whether the claimant can perform
any of his or her past relevant work despite the impairment;
and (5) whether there are significant numbers of jobs in the
national economy that the claimant can perform given the
claimant's residual functional capacity, age, education,
and work experience.
McIntyre v. Colvin, 758 F.3d 146, 150 (2d Cir.
applied these five steps. Noting that Plaintiff last met the
insured status requirements of the Act on December 31, 2016,
the ALJ found at Step 1 that Plaintiff did not engage in
substantial gainful activity from the alleged onset date of
April 20, 2011 until his last insured day on December 31,
2016. Id. at 16. At Step 2, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of cervical
spine degenerative disc disease, obesity, brachial neuritis
and ligamentous tear in the left knee. Id. These
impairments, the ALJ found, “more than slightly limit
the ability to perform basic work activities[.]”
Id. at 17. The ALJ also found that Plaintiff
suffered from the non-severe impairments of hypertension,
asthma, and migraine headaches. Id. at 17-18. The
ALJ rejected Plainitff's additional claims that he
suffered from low-back and mental-health impairments as well.
Id. at 18-19. At Step 3, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically exceeded the severity of a
listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. 4040.1520(d), 404.1525 and
404.1526. Id. at 20.
four, the ALJ held that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(b), and that Plaintiff could lift/carry up to ten
pounds, could sit for an hour before needing a break of three
minutes or less to strech. Id. at 20. He retained
the ability to remain on task, could occasionally bend and
climb stairs and ramps. Id. He could never climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds, but could occasionally reach in
all directions. Id.
also found that the Plaintiff's medically determinable
impairments could reasonably be expected to cause some of the
alleged symptoms; however, his statements concerning the
intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms
were not entirely consistent with the medical evidence and
other evidence in the record. Id. at 21. As such,
the ALJ considered those statements “only ...