United States District Court, W.D. New York
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
BUSH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Mazen Ido (“Plaintiff”) brings this action
pursuant to the Social Security Act (the “Act”),
seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (the “Commissioner”) that denied
his application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Act. See
ECF No. 1. The Court has jurisdiction over this action under
42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c), and the parties
consented to proceed before the undersigned in accordance
with a standing order (see ECF No. 12).
parties moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). See ECF Nos.
9, 11. Plaintiff also filed a reply. See ECF No. 13.
For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion (ECF
No. 9) is DENIED, and the Commissioner's
motion (ECF No. 11) is GRANTED.
March 5, 2015, Plaintiff protectively filed his DIB
application, alleging a disability beginning January 23, 2014
(the disability onset date), based on: back injury, neck
injury, left shoulder injury, and chronic migraines causing
short-term memory loss and reduced/blurry vision. Transcript
(Tr.) 283. Plaintiff alleges a work-related injury in January
2014. Tr. 52, 391-393. He was 36 years of age on the date
last insured (September 30, 2016). Tr. 23, 37. He had a college
education and past relevant work experience as an electronics
technician, medical shuttle bus driver, and laborer. Tr.
claim was initially denied on April 15, 2015, after which he
requested an administrative hearing. Plaintiff appeared and
testified at a video hearing held on August 4, 2017. Tr. 22.
Administrative Law Judge Elizabeth Ebner (the
“ALJ”) presided over the hearing from Falls
Church, Virginia. Id. Plaintiff appeared and
testified in Buffalo, New York, and was represented by Carol
A. Brent, an attorney. Beth Crain, an impartial vocational
expert (“VE”) also appeared and testified at the
hearing. Id. The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision
on August 30, 2017, finding Plaintiff not disabled. Tr.
22-39. On August 3, 2018, the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1-6. The ALJ's
decision thus became the “final decision” of the
Commissioner subject to judicial review under 42 U.S.C.
District Court Review
reviewing a final decision of the 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) (citing 42
U.S.C. § 405(g)) (other citation omitted). The Act holds
that the Commissioner's decision 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) (citations
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. 1990).
The Sequential Evaluation Process
must follow 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 must determine whether the
claimant is engaged in substantial gainful work activity.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(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, meaning that it imposes
significant restrictions on the claimant's ability to
perform basic work activities. Id. §
404.1520(c). If the claimant does not have a severe
impairment or combination of impairments meeting the
durational requirements, the analysis concludes with a
finding of “not disabled.” If the claimant does,
the ALJ continues to step three.
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). If
the impairment meets or medically equals the criteria of a
Listing and meets the durational requirement, the claimant is
disabled. Id. § 404.1509. If not, the ALJ
determines the claimant's residual functional capacity,
which is the ability to perform physical or mental work
activities on a sustained basis notwithstanding limitations
for the collective impairments. See id. §
then proceeds to step four and determines whether the
claimant's RFC permits him or her to perform the
requirements of his or her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(f). If the claimant can perform such
requirements, then he or she is not disabled. Id. 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). 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 his or her age, education, and work experience. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1560(c).
LAW JUDGE'S FINDINGS
analyzed Plaintiff's claim for benefits under the process
described above and made the following ...