Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Milhomme v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

September 24, 2018

MICHELLE MILHOMME, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          RULING ON CROSS MOTIONS TO REMAND AND AFFIRM DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          Jeffrey Alker Meyer United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Michelle Milhomme asserts that she is disabled and unable to work due to several medical conditions. She 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. Plaintiff has filed a motion to reverse the decision of the Commissioner (Doc. #18), and defendant has filed a motion to affirm the decision of the Commissioner (Doc. #19). For the reasons set forth below, I will grant the motion to remand and deny the motion to affirm the decision of the Commissioner.

         Background

         The Court refers to the transcripts filed by the Commissioner. See Doc. #11-1 through Doc. #11-14. Plaintiff filed an application for social security disability income on March 20, 2014, alleging a disability beginning on January 31, 2014. Plaintiff's claim was initially denied on May 13, 2014 and denied again upon reconsideration on September 25, 2014. She then filed a written request for a hearing on October 10, 2014.

         Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Ronald J. Thomas on November 9, 2015. Plaintiff was represented by counsel. On February 26, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision concluding that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. See Doc. #11-3 at 75-91. The Appeals Council affirmed the decision of the ALJ on June 13, 2017. Plaintiff then filed this federal action on August 11, 2017.

         To qualify as disabled, a claimant must show that she 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 h[er] previous work but cannot, considering h[er] 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 her 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).

         To evaluate a claimant's disability, and to determine whether she 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 her 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”] ¶ 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, she has the residual functional capacity to perform her past work. Finally, if the claimant is unable to perform her 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).

         The ALJ 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, 2016. Doc. #11-3 at 78. Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 1, 2014. Ibid. At Step Two, the ALJ found that plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: “history of lumbar fusion in 2010, cervical spondylosis, nonsevere knee condition, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, history of gastric bypass surgery and prior obesity (improved), and nonsevere incisional hernia repair surgery (recent).” Ibid.

         At Step 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 81.

         At Step Four, the ALJ found that, through the date of last insured, plaintiff had “the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform sedentary work with the further limitation of only occasionally bending, balancing, climbing, twisting, crawling, squatting and kneeling. In addition, she can perform occasional interaction with co-workers, the public and supervisors, and she can sustain simple, routine, repetitive tasks which do not require working closely with the public or teamwork.” Id. at 83. The ALJ also concluded at Step Four that plaintiff was unable to perform any of her past relevant work. Id. at 89.

         At Step Five, after considering plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ concluded that, through the date of last insured, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform. Ibid. The only such job identified by the ALJ was addresser. Id. at 90. The ALJ found that there are 110 such jobs in Connecticut and 6, 000 jobs nationally. Ibid. The ALJ ultimately held that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Id. at 91.

         Weight of Medical Opinion and the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.