United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON THE MOTION FOR ORDER
REVERSING COMMISSIONER'S DECISION AND MOTION FOR JUDGMENT
ON THE PLEADINGS
W. Eginton Senior United States District Judge
Michael Robert Axon challenges the denial of his application
for Social Security disability benefits and requests reversal
of the Commissioner's decision pursuant to sentence four
or six of 42 U.S.C § 405(g). Defendant has filed a
motion for judgment on the pleadings. For the following
reasons, the Court will deny the motion to reverse the
Commissioner's decision and will grant the motion for
judgment on the pleadings.
parties have filed statements of facts that detail
plaintiff's medical history. Defendant has stipulated to
the facts contained within plaintiff's brief with the
exception of any arguments contained within plaintiff's
statement of facts. The Court incorporates herein such
stipulated facts relative to plaintiff's medical history.
was born in 1983, graduated from college, and worked as an
editor for educational book publishers. He alleges that he
became disabled at the age of 29 years, and he filed a claim
for disability insurance benefits on September 13, 2013,
alleging disability as of November 5, 2012, based on
cognitive impairments, profuse sweating, hand and wrist pain,
and dizziness. He filed an application for supplemental
security income on September 30, 2013. In a decision dated
August 28, 2015, the Administrative Law Judge found that
plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social
requested Appeals Council review. On February 24, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review.
reviewing a final decision of the Commissioner under 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c), the district court
performs an appellate function. Zambrana v.
Califano, 651 F.2d 842, 844 (2d Cir. 1981); Igonia
v. Califano, 568 F.2d 1383, 1387 (D.C. Cir. 1977). A
reviewing court will “set aside the ALJ's decision
only where it is based upon legal error or is not supported
by substantial evidence.” Balsamo v. Chater,
142 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1998). See also Alston v.
Sullivan, 904 F.2d 122, 126 (2d Cir. 1990)(“As a
general matter, when we review a decision denying benefits
under the Act, we must regard the [Commissioner's]
factual determinations as conclusive unless they are
unsupported by substantial evidence”).
“Substantial evidence” is less than a
preponderance, but “more than a scintilla.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S.
197, 229 (1938); see Yancey v. Apfel, 145 F.3d 106,
110 (2d Cir. 1998); Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d 255,
258 (2d Cir. 1988).
determining whether the evidence is substantial, the court
must “take into account whatever in the record fairly
detracts from its weight.” Universal Camera Corp.
v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 488 (1951). In so doing, the
Court must “review the record as a whole.”
New York v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs.,
903 F.2d 122, 126 (2d Cir. 1990).
need not “reconcile every conflicting shred of medical
testimony.” Miles v. Harris, 645 F.2d 122, 124
regulations promulgated by the Commissioner establish a
five-step analysis for evaluating disability claims.
Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 140-142 (1987); 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 and 416.920. First, the
Commissioner considers if the claimant is, at present,
working in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(I). If not, the Commissioner next considers if
the claimant has a medically severe impairment. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(ii). If the severity requirement is met,
the third inquiry is whether the impairment is listed in
Appendix 1 of the regulations or is equal to a listed
impairment. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iii); Pt. 404,
Subpt. P. App. 1. If so, the disability is granted. If not,
the fourth inquiry is to determine whether, despite the
severe impairment, the claimant's residual functional
capacity allows him or her to perform any past work. 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iv). If a claimant demonstrates
that no past work can be performed, it then becomes incumbent
upon the Commissioner to come forward with evidence that
substantial gainful alternative employment exists which the
claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform. 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v). If the Commissioner fails to
come forward with such evidence, the claimant is entitled to
disability benefits. Alston, 904 F.2d at 126.
the reviewing court has “no apparent basis to conclude
that a more complete record might support the
Commissioner's decision, ” it may remand for the
sole purpose of calculating benefits. Butts v.
Barnhart, 399 F.3d 277, 385-86 (2d Cir. 2004). However,
the reviewing court may remand the matter to allow the ALJ to
further develop the record, make more specific findings, or
clarify his or her rationale. See Grace v. Astrue,
2013 WL 4010271, at *14 (S.D.N.Y.); see also Butts,
399 F.3d at 385- 86.
challenges the denial on the grounds that the ALJ's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”)
determination was not supported by substantial evidence.
Plaintiff maintains that defendant should have sought a
medical source statement from one of plaintiff's treating
providers. Plaintiff ...