United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JASON D. TWIGG, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
ORDER REMANDING CASE
W. Thompson, United States District Judge
reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is
reversed and this case is remanded for additional proceedings
consistent with this order.
court's function when reviewing a denial of disability
benefits is first to ascertain whether the Commissioner
applied the correct legal principles in reaching a
conclusion, and then whether the decision is supported by
substantial evidence. See Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d
983, 985 (2d Cir. 1987). Absent legal error, this court may
not set aside the decision of the Commissioner if it is
supported by substantial evidence. See Berry v.
Schweiker, 675 F.2d 464, 467 (2d Cir. 1982).
plaintiff argues that remand is required in this case
1. The finding that Plaintiff does not meet the listing of
1.04 (Spinal Disorder) is contrary to the evidence in the
2. The finding that Plaintiff does not meet the listing of
1.02 (Major Dysfunction of a Joint) is contrary to the
evidence in the record.
3. Improper weight (greater than appropriate) was afforded to
state agency medical consultants who didn't examine the
4. Improper weight (less than appropriate) and/or
consideration was afforded to Plaintiffs treating physicians
where there was a longevity of treatment, testing and surgery
performed and multiple examinations of Plaintiff.
5. The finding that the Plaintiff can engage in substantial
gainful employment at a light duty capacity is contrary to
the evidence in the record.
Memo. (Doc. No. 16) at 17-18. The Commissioner contends that
the ALJ correctly found that the plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled a listed impairment, that the ALJ properly
evaluated the evidence of record, and that substantial
evidence supported the ALJ's finding with respect to a
residual functional capacity for a range of light work.
court concludes that this case must be remanded because the
ALJ failed to follow the treating physician rule (i.e.
plaintiff's third and fourth arguments) and, in addition,
failed to develop the record as he was required to in this
case, so the court does not address the plaintiff's other
opinion of a claimant's treating physician as to the
nature and severity of the impairment is given
‘controlling weight' so long as it ‘is
well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with
the other substantial evidence in [the] case
record.'” Burgess v. Astrue, 537 F.3d 117,
128 (2d Cir. 2008) (quoting 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2));
see also Mariani v. Colvin, 567 Fed.Appx. 8, 10 (2d
Cir. 2014) (holding that “[a] treating physician's
opinion need not be given controlling weight where it is not
well-supported or is not consistent with the opinions of
other medical experts” where those other opinions
amount to “substantial evidence to undermine the
opinion of the treating physician”). “The
regulations further provide that even if controlling weight
is not given to the opinions of the treating physician, the
ALJ may still assign some weight to those views, and must
specifically explain the weight that is actually given to the
opinion.” Schrack v. Astrue, 608 F.Supp.2d
297, 301 (D. Conn. 2009) (citing Schupp v. Barnhart, No.
Civ. 3:02CV103 (WWE), 2004 WL 1660579, at *9 (D. Conn.
Mar. 12, 2004)). It is “within the province of the ALJ
to credit portions of a treating physician's report while
declining to accept other portions of the same report, where
the record contained conflicting opinions on the same medical
condition.” Pavia v. Colvin, No. 6:14-cv-06379
(MAT), 2015 WL 4644537, at *4 (W.D.N.Y. Aug. 4, 2015) (citing
Veino v. Barnhart, 312 F.3d 578, 588 (2d Cir.
determining the amount of weight to give to a medical
opinion, the ALJ must consider several factors: the examining
relationship, the treatment relationship (the length, the
frequency of examination, the nature and extent), evidence in
support of the medical opinion, consistency with the record,
specialty in the medical field, and any other relevant
factors. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(1)-(6). In the Second
Circuit, “all of the factors cited in the
regulations” must be considered to avoid legal error.
Schaal v. Apfel 134 F.3d 496, 504 (2d Cir. 1998).
Failure to provide “good reasons” for not
crediting the opinion of a claimant's treating physician
is a ground for remand. Snell v. Apfel, 177 F.3d
128, 133-34 (2d Cir. 1999)(citing Schaal, 134 F.3d at 505).
Rosa v. Callahan,168 F.3d 72, 79 (2d Cir. 1999), the
court explained the ALJ's obligation to fill gaps in the
administrative record prior to ...