United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION & ORDER
LAWRENCE J. VILARDO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
29, 2018, the plaintiff, Jeffery John Lovejoy, 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 December 28, 2018, Lovejoy moved
for judgment on the pleadings, Docket Item 7; on February 26,
2019, the Commissioner responded and cross-moved for judgment
on the pleadings, Docket Item 11; and on March 19, 2019,
Lovejoy replied, Docket Item 12.
reasons stated below, this Court grants Lovejoy's motion
in part and denies the Commissioner's cross-motion.
February 5, 2015, Lovejoy applied for Disability Insurance
Benefits. Docket Item 6 at 80. He claimed that he had been
disabled since April 30, 2007, due to a “[b]roken right
foot, ” “[i]njuries due to a fall, ” and
“[i]njuries [to his] left shoulder.” Id.
11, 2015, Lovejoy received notice that his application was
denied because he was not disabled under the Act.
Id. at 79. He requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), id. at
86, which was held on February 15, 2017, id. at 28.
The ALJ then issued a decision on May 2, 2017, confirming the
finding that Lovejoy was not disabled. Id. at 14-23.
Lovejoy appealed the ALJ's decision, but his appeal was
denied, and the decision then became final. Id. at
THE ALJ'S DECISION
denying Lovejoy's application, the ALJ evaluated
Lovejoy's claim under the Social Security
Administration's five-step evaluation process for
disability determinations. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. At the first step, the ALJ determines whether the
claimant currently is engaged in substantial gainful
employment. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). If so, the claimant is
not disabled. Id. If not, the ALJ proceeds to step
two. § 404.1520(a)(4).
two, the ALJ decides whether the claimant is suffering from
any severe impairments. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). If there
are no severe impairments, the claimant is not disabled.
Id. If there are any severe impairments, the ALJ
proceeds to step three. § 404.1520(a)(4).
three, the ALJ determines whether any severe impairment or
combination of impairments meets or equals an impairment
listed in the regulations. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii). If the
claimant's severe impairment or combination of
impairments meets or equals one listed in the regulations,
the claimant is disabled. Id. But if the ALJ finds
that no severe impairment or combination of impairments meets
or equals any in the regulations, the ALJ proceeds to step
four. § 404.1520(a)(4).
of step four, the ALJ first determines the claimant's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”).
See §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv);
404.1520(d)-(e). The RFC is a holistic assessment of the
claimant-addressing both severe and non-severe medical
impairments-that evaluates whether the claimant can perform
past relevant work or other work in the national economy.
See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545.
determining the claimant's RFC, the ALJ completes step
four. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e). If the claimant can
perform past relevant work, he or she is not disabled and the
analysis ends. § 404.1520(f). But if the claimant
cannot, the ALJ proceeds to step five. §§
fifth and final step, the Commissioner must present evidence
showing that the claimant is not disabled because the
claimant is physically and mentally capable of adjusting to
an alternative job. See Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S.
137, 146 n.5 (1987); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v), (g).
More specifically, the Commissioner bears the burden of
proving that the claimant “retains a residual
functional capacity to perform ...