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Thompson v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. New York

January 7, 2020

JEANNE M. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, COMMISSIONER, Defendant.

          CONSENT ORDER

          HON. HUGH B. SCOTT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the Court are the parties' respective motions for judgment on the pleadings (Docket Nos. 12 (plaintiff), 19 (defendant Commissioner)). Having considered the Administrative Record, filed as Docket No. 7 (references noted as “[R. ]”), and the papers of both sides, this Court reaches the following decision.

         INTRODUCTION

         This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security that plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to disability insurance benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income benefits. The parties consented to proceed before a Magistrate Judge (Docket No. 23, Order of Oct. 4, 2019).

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff (“Jeanne Thompson” or “plaintiff”) filed an application for disability insurance benefits on April 28, 2015, and for Supplemental Security Income on April 16, 2015 [R. 15]. That application was denied initially. The plaintiff appeared before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), who considered the case de novo and concluded, in a written decision dated December 22, 2017, that the plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on June 11, 2018, when the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review.

         Plaintiff commenced this action on August 2, 2018 (Docket No. 1). The parties moved for judgment on the pleadings (Docket Nos. 12, 19), and plaintiff duly replied (Docket No. 21). Upon further consideration, this Court then determined that the motions could be decided on the papers.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, a 50-year-old with a college education, last worked as a personal care aide [R. 178, 198] (Docket No. 12, Pl. Memo. at 5). She contends that she was disabled as of the onset date of February 1, 2014 [R. 15]. Plaintiff claims the following impairments deemed severe by the ALJ: mitochondrial cytopathy, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, and Sjogren's syndrome [R. 18]. The ALJ noted other ailments deemed to be non-severe at Step Two: irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, systemic lupus erythematosus, and cervicalgia [R. 18]. Plaintiff claims other ailments, chronic fatigue syndrome, bladder impairments, and right foot/ankle pain, that were not discussed by the ALJ (Docket No. 12, Pl. Memo. at 1, 16-19).

         MEDICAL AND VOCATIONAL EVIDENCE

         The ALJ found that plaintiff had a residual functional capacity to perform light work, except she could carry, lift, push and pull 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently; could sit for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; could stand for up to 6 hours in a workday; and walk up to 6 hours in a workday [R. 21].

         The ALJ found that plaintiff was able to perform past relevant work as a personal care aide (medium level of exertion) which plaintiff performed at a sedentary exertion level [R. 23]. Plaintiff performed this work for two to three days a week for the first two years of her claimed disability until she stopped working [R. 39-42, 150] (see Docket No. 19, Def. Memo. at 18, 2). As a result, the ALJ held that plaintiff was not disabled [R. 24].

         DISCUSSION

         The only issue to be determined by this Court is whether the ALJ's decision that the plaintiff was not under a disability is supported by substantial evidence. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Rivera v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 964, 967 (2d Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence is defined as “‘more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Richardson v. ...


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