United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION & ORDER
LAWRENCE J. VILARDO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
25, 2018, the plaintiff, Marquis Tisdale, 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 February 7, 2019, Tisdale moved
for judgment on the pleadings, Docket Item 9; on May 21,
2019, the Commissioner responded and cross-moved for judgment
on the pleadings, Docket Item 14; and on June 10, 2019,
Tisdale replied, Docket Item 15.
reasons stated below, this Court grants Tisdale's motion
in part and denies the Commissioner's cross-motion.
October 9, 2014, Tisdale applied for Supplemental Security
Income. Docket Item 69. He claimed that he had been disabled
since October 31, 2011, due to a back injury as a result of a
car accident, subsequent back surgeries, and numbness in his
legs. Id. at 69-70.
December 24, 2014, Tisdale received notice that his
application was denied because he was not disabled under the
Act. Id. at 69-76 He requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), id. at
91, which was held on February 7, 2017, id. at 27.
The ALJ then issued a decision on May 2, 2017, confirming the
finding that Tisdale was not disabled. Id. at 14-21.
Tisdale appealed the ALJ's decision, but his appeal was
denied, and the decision then became final. Id. at
RELEVANT MEDICAL EVIDENCE
following summarizes the medical evidence most relevant to
Tisdale's claim. Tisdale was examined by several
different providers, but only the opinion of Rita Figueroa,
M.D., is of significance to the claim of disability here.
Rita Figueroa, M.D.
December 5, 2014, Dr. Figueroa, an internist, evaluated
Tisdale. Docket Item 6 at 268. She observed that Tisdale was
“in no acute distress, ” had a normal gait, could
“walk on his heels and toes without difficulty, ”
did not need “help changing for [the] exam or getting
on and off [the] exam table, ” and was “[a]ble to
rise from [his] chair without difficulty.” Id.
at 269. Tisdale told Dr. Figueroa that he “cook[ed]
once to twice a week” but did “no laundry because
he [could not] do any bending.” Id. He also
told her that he could not “pick up heavy things”
or “stand for long.” Id.
Figueroa diagnosed Tisdale with chronic back pain and lumbar
radiculopathy. Id. at 270. Ultimately, she concluded
that Tisdale “has marked limitations for bending,
lifting, and carrying” and a “[m]oderate
limitation to prolonged walking.” Id. at 271.
THE ALJ'S DECISION
denying Tisdale's application, the ALJ evaluated
Tisdale's claim under the Social Security
Administration's five-step evaluation process for
disability determinations. See 20 C.F.R §
416.920(a)(2). At the first step, the ALJ determines whether
the claimant currently is engaged in substantial gainful
employment. § 416.920(a)(4)(i). ...