United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS
WILLIAM I. GARFINKEL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Patrick Quatrone has filed this appeal of the adverse
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). Plaintiff now moves, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), for an order reversing this decision,
or in the alternative remanding the matter for rehearing.
[Doc. # 14]. Defendant has responded with a motion to affirm
the decision of the Commissioner. [Doc. # 15]. The
undersigned heard oral argument on February 15,
2017. For the reasons that follow, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
standards for determining a claimant's entitlement to
disability benefits, the Commissioner's five-step
framework for evaluating disability claims, and the district
court's review of the Commissioner's final decision
are well-established. The Court is following those standards,
but does not repeat them here.
filed his DIB application on February 21, 2012, alleging a
disability onset date of December 21, 2011. His claims were
denied at both the initial and reconsideration levels.
Thereafter, Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing
before administrative law judge Lisa Groeneveld-Meijer
(“the ALJ”) on August 20, 2013. On October 23,
2013, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's
claims. The Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's
decision, making it the final decision of the Commissioner.
This action followed.
was fifty years old on the alleged onset date. (R. 31). He
has prior work experience as a collections manager, and he
last worked in this position in 2009. (R. 54). In accordance
with the Court's scheduling order, the parties stipulated
to Plaintiff's medical background as presented in the
briefs accompanying Plaintiff's motion. The Court adopts
these facts and incorporates them by reference herein.
followed the sequential evaluation process for assessing
disability claims. At Step One, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the
alleged onset date. (R. 33). At Step Two, the ALJ found the
following severe impairments: dysthymia with anxiety; back
and neck pain due to bilateral spondylolysis and
spondylolisthesis at ¶ 5 and spina bifida occulta in the
sacrum; and diverticulosis. (R. 34). At Step Three, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the listed impairments. (R. 34-35). Next,
the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the following residual
Plaintiff can perform light work except he should not climb
ladders, ropes, scaffolds, or stairs. He can frequently climb
ramps, and can frequently perform other postural activities,
such as kneeling, bending, stooping, crawling, and balancing.
He should avoid potential hazards, such as moving mechanical
parts and unprotected heights. He should not be exposed to
concentrated loud noises. He can perform routine work with
few changes day to day, no contact with the general public,
no tandem tasks, and only brief and superficial interaction
with others on shift. He should not perform belt-paced work.
He requires the option to change positions two to three times
per hour to stretch at the work station.
35-39). At Step Four, the ALJ found Plaintiff was unable to
perform his past relevant work
31). Finally, at Step Five, the ALJ relied on the testimony
of a vocational expert (“VE”) to find that there
are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff can perform given his age, education
level, and RFC. (R. 39-40). Accordingly, the ALJ found
Plaintiff not to be disabled.
raises several issues on appeal, most of which pertain to the
ALJ's evaluation of the opinion of Dr. Gervasi,