United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ELIZABETH T. LYDE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
RULING ON CROSS MOTIONS TO REVERSE AND AFFIRM THE
DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
JEFFREY ALKER MEYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Elizabeth Lyde brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking review of a final decision of the
Social Security Administration denying her claim for
supplemental security income and disability insurance
benefits. For the reasons that follow, I will deny Lyde's
motion to reverse the decision of the Commissioner (Doc.
#22), and grant the Commissioner's motion to affirm (Doc.
Court refers to the transcripts provided by the Commissioner.
See Docs. #14-1 through #14-20, #21. Lyde first
applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
benefits on June 15, 2010, citing a number of impairments as
sources of her disability, including depression, anxiety,
post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders,
substance dependence, obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome, and
diabetes. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denied Lyde's
initial claim for benefits in a ruling dated January 27,
2012. Lyde appealed this decision to the Appeals Council,
which upheld the decision of the ALJ. On subsequent appeal to
this Court, I remanded the case to the Commissioner to
“evaluate the significance of [Lyde]'s
non-exertional limitations and, if necessary, to consider
vocational expert testimony as to [Lyde]'s ability to
find work that exists in the national economy.”
Lyde v. Colvin, 2016 WL 53822, at *8 (D. Conn.
remand, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's initial
ruling and remanded the case for a complete reconsideration
of Lyde's application. Doc. #14-12 at 53.
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
[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 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 can
find a claimant to be disabled or not disabled at a
particular step and can 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).
October 26, 2016, the ALJ again determined that Lyde is not
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. At
Step One, the ALJ found that Lyde met the insured status
requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30,
2012. Doc. #14-11 at 8. Lyde had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since July 1, 2008. Ibid. At Step
Two, the ALJ ruled that Lyde has the following severe
impairments: “diabetes mellitus, obesity, [and] major
depressive disorder.” Ibid.
Three, the ALJ determined that Lyde did not have any
impairments or combination of impairments that meet or
medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Id. at
Four, the ALJ found that Lyde had “the residual
functional capacity (RFC) to perform light work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b).” Id. at 11.
The ALJ also found that Lyde is subject to certain
limitations in the type of work she can perform, including
that “she is capable of sustaining simple, routine,
repetitive work tasks that do not involve teamwork or closely
working with the public; occasional bending, balancing,
kneeling, twisting, squatting, crawling, and climbing but no
climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.”
Ibid. At Step Four, the ALJ also determined that
Lyde was unable to perform any past relevant work.
Id. at 16.
Five, after considering Lyde's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined that “there are
jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that [Lyde] can perform.” Ibid. The
three jobs identified were garment sorter, housekeeper, and
laundry worker. Id. at 17. The ALJ found that there
are 950 jobs as a garment worker, 20, 560 jobs as a
housekeeper, and 230 jobs as a laundry worker available in
Connecticut. Ibid. He also found that there were 55,
700 jobs as a garment sorter, 1.6 million jobs as a
housekeeper, and 231, 000 jobs as a laundry worker
nationally. Ibid. As a result of the ALJ's
conclusions concerning Lyde's RFC and her ability to
engage in available jobs, the ALJ found that Lyde was not
disabled. Id. at 18.
has filed a motion to reverse the Commissioner's decision
and to remand the case for a de novo hearing. The
Commissioner has filed a cross motion seeking affirmance of
the decision of the ALJ. For the reasons that follow, I will