United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION & ORDER
LAWRENCE J. VILARDO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
November 9, 2018, the plaintiff, Darrel Loren Courson,
brought this action under the Social Security Act (“the
Act”). He seeks review of the determination by the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
that he was not disabled. Docket Item 1. On May 28, 2019,
Courson moved for judgment on the pleadings, Docket Item 6;
on September 26, 2019, the Commissioner responded and
cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings, Docket Item 13;
and on October 17, 2019, Courson replied, Docket Item 15.
reasons stated below, this Court grants Courson's motion
in part and denies the Commissioner's cross-motion.
17, 2015, Courson applied for Disability Insurance Benefits.
Docket Item 5 at 71. He claimed that he had been disabled
since April 23, 2013, due to two spinal fusions, chronic
pain, nerve damage, an overactive bladder, incontinence,
hemorrhoids, anxiety, and depression. Id. at 71-72.
September 23, 2015, Courson received notice that his
application was denied because he was not disabled under the
Act. Id. at 70. He requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), id. at
97, which was held on November 7, 2017, id. at 31.
The ALJ then issued a decision on February 27, 2018,
confirming the finding that Courson was not disabled.
Id. at 19-26. Courson appealed the ALJ's
decision, but his appeal was denied, and the decision then
became final. Id. at 5.
RELEVANT MEDICAL EVIDENCE
following summarizes the medical evidence most relevant to
Courson's claim. Courson was examined by several
different providers, but the opinions of Gordon C. Steinagle,
D.O., M.P.H.; Abrar Siddiqui, M.D.; and Stuart Rubin, M.D.,
are of most significance to the claim of disability here.
Gordon C. Steinagle, D.O., M.P.H.
March 17, 2015, Dr. Steinagle, an internist, evaluated
Courson. Docket Item 5 at 406. Dr. Steinagle reported that
Courson had “chronic, unrelenting radicular pain in
both legs and into his feet.” Id. at 407.
Courson's “legs [were] also weak and he state[d]
that he [was] not steady on his feet.” Id.
reported that he “need[ed] help with cooking” and
with “dressing at times” but that he could
“feed and toilet [him]self.” Id. He
could “drive very short distances” and
“walk up a few stairs” but could not “walk
Steinagle observed that Courson's gait was
“antalgic” and he was “unable to
perform” a “[h]eel and toe walk.”
Id. at 408. He had limited mobility in his lumbar
spine, and his straight leg raise was positive bilaterally.
Id. Dr. Steinagle also noted a “[r]esting
tremor.” Id. Ultimately, Dr. Steinagle
concluded that Courson was not “capable of working in a
sedentary or light capacity” because he could not
“lift 10 lbs. occasionally (up to 1/3 of a day) and/or
walk occasionally (up to 1/3 of a day).” Id.
Abrar Siddiqui, M.D.
August 17, 2015, Dr. Siddiqui, an internist, evaluated
Courson. Id. at 603. Dr. Siddiqui noted that Courson
“complain[ed] of [constant] back pain” that was
“8/10 in intensity” and “sharp, dull,
aching, [and] burning in nature.” Id. The pain
“radiat[ed] to both hips and legs [and was] associated
with tingling and numbness.” Id. As a result,
Courson “stumble[d] sometimes while walking.”
Siddiqui observed that Courson “appeared to be in no
acute distress.” Id. at 604. Courson was,
however, “shaking while walking” and could walk
on his heels and toes only “with difficulty.”
Id. He was able to squat up to 20 degrees and get up
from his chair without difficulty. Id. Courson's
“[c]ervical spine show[ed] full flexion, extension,
lateral flexion bilaterally, and full rotary movement
bilaterally.” Id. at 605. His “[l]umbar
spine show[ed] flexion restricted to 15 degrees bilaterally,
and rotary movement restricted to 15 degrees
bilaterally.” Id. His straight leg raise was
“negative bilaterally.” Id. Dr. Siddiqui
opined that Courson had “mild to moderate limitations
in [his] ability to push, pull, or carry heavy
objects.” Id. at 606.
Stuart Rubin, M.D.
April 19, 2016, Dr. Rubin, a pain-management specialist,
evaluated Courson's medical records. Id. at 702.
Based on that review, Dr. Rubin opined that Courson could sit
for “[o]ne-half-hour at a time up to seven hours per
day with the ability to change position every 15
minutes”; could stand and/or walk for “15 minutes
at a time up to one hour a day with [an] appropriate
assistive device and safety rails”; could lift, carry,
push, and/or pull “0 pounds while standing and up to 15
pounds while sitting”; could reach above shoulder level
or below desk level ...