United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON CROSS MOTIONS
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Maria Perez (“plaintiff”), brings this appeal
under §205(g) of the Social Security Act (the
“Act”), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §405(g),
seeking review of a final decision by the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner” or “defendant”)
denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under the Act. Plaintiff has moved for an
order reversing the decision of the Commissioner. [Doc. #27].
reasons set forth below, plaintiff's Second Motion for
Order Reversing the Decision of the Commissioner
[Doc. #27] is GRANTED, to
the extent plaintiff seeks a remand for further
administrative proceedings. Defendant's Motion for an
Order Affirming the Decision of the Commissioner
[Doc. #29] is DENIED.
filed concurrent applications for DIB and SSI on June 17,
2013, alleging disability beginning on June 6, 2012. See
Certified Transcript of the Administrative Record, Doc. #28,
compiled on December 23, 2016, (hereinafter
“Tr.”) 253-68.Plaintiff's applications were
denied initially on October 16, 2013, see Tr. 164-73, and
upon reconsideration on November 14, 2013. See Tr. 174-77,
April 23, 2015, plaintiff, represented by Attorney Veronica
Halpine, appeared and testified at a hearing before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Alexander
Borré. See Tr. 32-80; see also Tr. 212. Vocational
Expert (“VE”) Jeffrey Joy also testified at the
hearing by telephone. See Tr. 70-78; see also Tr. 245-46. On
June 15, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. See
Tr. 10-31. On December 4, 2015, the Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review, thereby making the
ALJ's June 15, 2015, decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. See Tr. 1-6. The case is now ripe for review
under 42 U.S.C. §405(g).
timely filed this action for review and now moves to reverse
the Commissioner's decision. [Doc. #27]. On appeal,
1. The ALJ erred by failing to consider two State of
Connecticut Department of Social Services (“DSS”)
disability determinations and two treating source opinions;
2. The ALJ erred by basing his decision on the opinions of
state medical and psychological consultants who did not have
the benefit of plaintiff's treatment records;
3. The ALJ's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) determination is not supported by
4. The ALJ erred at step two of the sequential evaluation by
failing to find certain of plaintiff's impairments
5. The ALJ's step four determination is not supported by
6. The ALJ failed to develop the record because he did not
provide a Spanish interpreter at the administrative hearing;
7. The ALJ erred in his credibility analysis of plaintiff;
8. The ALJ failed to provide plaintiff with in-person
testimony by a VE at the administrative hearing and failed to
provide notice of the VE who would appear at that hearing.
See generally Doc. #27-1 at 12-39. As set forth below, the
Court finds that ALJ Borré erred by failing to
consider certain evidence.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review of a Social Security disability determination involves
two levels of inquiry. First, the Court must decide whether
the Commissioner applied the correct legal principles in
making the determination. Second, the Court must decide
whether the determination is supported by substantial
evidence. See Balsamo v. Chater, 142 F.3d 75, 79 (2d
Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). Substantial evidence is
evidence that a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to
support a conclusion; it is more than a “mere
scintilla.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v.
NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The reviewing
court's responsibility is to ensure that a claim has been
fairly evaluated by the ALJ. See Grey v. Heckler,
721 F.2d 41, 46 (2d Cir. 1983) (citation omitted).
Court does not reach the second stage of review - evaluating
whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
conclusion - if the Court determines that the ALJ failed to
apply the law correctly. See Norman v. Astrue, 912
F.Supp.2d 33, 70 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (“The Court first
reviews the Commissioner's decision for compliance with
the correct legal standards; only then does it determine
whether the Commissioner's conclusions were supported by
substantial evidence.” (citing Tejada v.
Apfel,167 F.3d 770, 773-74 (2d Cir. 1999))).
“Where there is a reasonable basis for doubt whether
the ALJ applied correct legal principles, application of the
substantial evidence standard to uphold a finding of no
disability creates an ...