United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION AND ORDER
Elizabeth A. Wolford, United States District Judge
by counsel, plaintiff Lisa McCann ("Plaintiff) brings
this action pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act
(the "Act") seeking review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security (the
"Commissioner," or "Defendant") denying
in part her application for supplemental security income
("SSI"). (Dkt. 1). This Court has jurisdiction over
the matter pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for
judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Dkt. 12; Dkt. 18), and
Plaintiffs reply (Dkt. 19). For the reasons discussed below,
the Commissioner's motion (Dkt. 18) is denied, Plaintiffs
motion (Dkt. 12) is granted in part, and this matter is
remanded for further administrative proceedings.
protectively filed her application for SSI on April 15, 2014.
(Dkt. 6 at 15, 64). In her application, Plaintiff
alleged disability beginning January 1, 2014, due to carpal
tunnel in both wrists, depression, and anxiety. (Id.
at 64). Plaintiffs application was initially denied on
September 9, 2014. (Id. at 79-83). At Plaintiffs
request, a video hearing was held on May 19, 2017, before
administrative law judge ("ALJ") Christine Cutter,
who presided over the hearing from Portland, Maine.
(Id. at 37-38). Although Plaintiff did not
personally appear, Plaintiffs counsel appeared on her behalf.
(Id. at 38-39). On June 7, 2017, the ALJ issued a
partially favorable decision finding Plaintiff was not
disabled prior to May 19, 2017, but had become disabled on
that date. (Id. at 11-28). Plaintiff requested
Appeals Council review; her request was denied on February
27, 2018, making the ALJ's determination the
Commissioner's final decision. (Id. at 5-7).
This action followed.
District Court Review
reviewing a final decision of the [Social Security
Administration ("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) (quotation omitted); see
also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Act holds that a decision
by the Commissioner 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) (quotation
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. 1998) (quotation omitted); see also Wagner v.
Sec 'y of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856,
860 (2d Cir. 1990) (holding that review of the
Secretary's decision is not de novo and that the
Secretary's findings are conclusive if supported by
substantial evidence). However, "[t]he deferential
standard of review for substantial evidence does not apply to
the Commissioner's conclusions of law." Byam v.
Barnhart, 336 F.3d 172, 179 (2d Cir. 2003) (citing
Townley v. Heckler, 748 F.2d 109, 112 (2d Cir.
follows 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 determines whether the claimant
is engaged in substantial gainful work activity. See 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(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, in that it imposes significant restrictions on the
claimant's ability to perform basic work activities.
Id. § 416.920(c). If the claimant does not have
a severe impairment or combination of impairments, the
analysis concludes with a finding of "not
disabled." If the claimant does have at least one severe
impairment, 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. § 416.920(d). If the
impairment meets or medically equals the criteria of a
Listing and meets the durational requirement (id.
§ 416.909), the claimant is disabled. If not, the ALJ
determines the claimant's residual functional capacity
("RFC"), which is the ability to perform physical
or mental work activities on a sustained basis,
notwithstanding limitations for the collective impairments.
See Id. § 416.920(e).
then proceeds to step four and determines whether the
claimant's RFC permits the claimant to perform the
requirements of his or her past relevant work. Id.
§ 416.920(f). If the claimant can perform such
requirements, then he or she is not disabled. 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. § 416.920(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 ...