United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON CROSS MOTIONS TO REMAND AND AFFIRM DECISION
OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge.
Michael Patrick Kenny alleges that he is disabled and unable
to work due to several conditions. He filed this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking review of a final
decision of defendant Commissioner of Social Security, who
denied plaintiff's application for social security
disability insurance benefits. For the reasons set forth
below, I will deny plaintiff's motion to remand the
decision of the Commissioner, and I will grant the
Commissioner's motion to affirm the decision of the
Court refers to the transcripts provided by the Commissioner.
See Doc. #13-1 through Doc. #13-10. Plaintiff filed
an application for social security disability income on
August 19, 2014, alleging a disability beginning on July 1,
2012. Plaintiff's claim was initially denied on January
6, 2015, and denied again upon reconsideration on June 29,
2015. He then filed a written request for a hearing on July
appeared and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) John Aletta on August 17, 2016. Plaintiff was
represented by counsel. On October 28, 2016, the ALJ issued a
decision concluding that plaintiff was not disabled within
the meaning of the Social Security Act. See Doc.
#13-3 at 28-43. The Appeals Council affirmed the decision of
the ALJ on May 30, 2017. Plaintiff then filed this federal
action on July 14, 2017.
qualify as disabled, a claimant must show that he is unable
“to engage in any substantial gainful activity by
reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which . . . has lasted or can be expected to
last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months,
” and “the impairment must be ‘of such
severity that [the claimant] is not only unable to do his
previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and
work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial
gainful work which exists in the national
economy.'” Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs.,
Inc., 781 F.3d 42, 45 (2d Cir. 2015) (quoting 42 U.S.C.
§§ 423(d)(1)(A), 423(d)(2)(A)). “[W]ork
exists in the national economy when it exists in significant
numbers either in the region where [a claimant] live[s] or in
several other regions of the country, ” and “when
there is a significant number of jobs (in one or more
occupations) having requirements which [a claimant] [is] able
to meet with his physical or mental abilities and vocational
qualifications.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.966(a)-(b);
see also Kennedy v. Astrue, 343 Fed.Appx.
719, 722 (2d Cir. 2009).
evaluate a claimant's disability, and to determine
whether he qualifies for benefits, the agency engages in the
following five-step process:
First, the Commissioner considers whether the claimant is
currently engaged in substantial gainful activity. Where the
claimant is not, the Commissioner next considers whether the
claimant has a “severe impairment” that
significantly limits [his] physical or mental ability to do
basic work activities. If the claimant suffers such an
impairment, the third inquiry is whether, based solely on
medical evidence, the claimant has an impairment that is
listed [in the so-called “Listings”] in 20
C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. If the claimant has a
listed impairment, the Commissioner will consider the
claimant disabled without considering vocational factors such
as age, education, and work experience; the Commissioner
presumes that a claimant who is afflicted with a listed
impairment is unable to perform substantial gainful activity.
Assuming the claimant does not have a listed impairment, the
fourth inquiry is whether, despite the claimant's severe
impairment, [he] has the residual functional capacity to
perform [his] past work. Finally, if the claimant is unable
to perform [his] past work, the burden then shifts to the
Commissioner to determine whether there is other work which
the claimant could perform.
Cage v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 692 F.3d 118,
122-23 (2d Cir. 2012) (alteration in original) (citation
omitted); see also 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(i)-(v). In applying this framework, an ALJ may
find a claimant to be disabled or not disabled at a
particular step and may make a decision without proceeding to
the next step. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4). The
claimant bears the burden of proving the case at Steps One
through Four; at Step Five, the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to demonstrate that there is other work that the
claimant can perform. See McIntyre v.
Colvin, 758 F.3d 146, 150 (2d Cir. 2014).
concluded that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning
of the Social Security Act. At Step One, the ALJ determined
that plaintiff last met the insured status requirement of the
Social Security Act on December 31, 2015. Doc. #13-3 at 30.
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since July 1, 2012, the date of the alleged onset of his
disability, through his date last insured. At Step Two, the
ALJ found that plaintiff suffered from the following severe
impairments: “affective disorders, degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, peripheral neuropathy and
Three, the ALJ determined that plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
Id. at 32.
Four, the ALJ found that, through the date last insured,
plaintiff “had the residual functional capacity to
perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) except
the claimant can tolerate no concentrated exposure to
humidity, wetness or extreme cold. Further, the claimant is
restricted to performing simple, routine tasks, with no
contact with the public and occasional contact with
co-workers and changes in his work setting should be limited
to simple work-related decisions.” Id. at 34.
The ALJ also concluded at Step Four that plaintiff was unable
to perform any of his past relevant work. Id. at 41.
Five, after considering plaintiff's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity (RFC), the ALJ
concluded that, through the date last insured, there were
jobs that plaintiff could perform that existed in significant
numbers in the national economy. Id. at 42. In
reaching this conclusion, the ALJ relied on the testimony of
a vocational expert. The ALJ ultimately held that plaintiff
was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security
Act. Id. at 43.
30, 2017, the Appeals Council affirmed the decision of the
ALJ. Id. at 2. Plaintiff then timely ...