United States District Court, D. Connecticut
WILLIAM I. GARFINKEL United States Magistrate Judge
ON PENDING MOTIONS
an administrative appeal following the denial of the
plaintiff, Jose Perlata Payamps's, application for Title
II disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). It is
brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff now
moves for an order reversing the decision of the Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”), or in the alternative, an order
remanding his case for a rehearing. [Doc. # 22]. The
Commissioner, in turn, has moved for an order affirming her
decision. [Doc. # 28]. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiff's motion is granted and the matter is remanded
for additional proceedings consistent with this Ruling.
filed his DIB application on October 8, 2014, alleging a
disability onset date of August 20, 2014. His claims were
denied at both the initial and reconsideration levels.
Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing. On February 3,
2017, a hearing was held before administrative law judge I.K.
Harrington (the “ALJ”). Plaintiff appeared with
an attorney. Plaintiff and a vocational expert
(“VE”) testified at the hearing. On April 14,
2017, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's
claim. Plaintiff timely requested review of the ALJ's
decision by the Appeals Council. On October 16, 2017, the
Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision
the final determination of the Commissioner. This action
followed the sequential evaluation process for assessing
disability claims. At Step One, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the
alleged onset date. (R. 13). At Step Two, the ALJ found
Plaintiff's degenerative disc disease and diabetes
mellitus were severe impairments. (R. 13). At Step Three, the
ALJ found these impairments did not meet or medically equal
the severity of one of the listed impairments. (R.13-14).
Next, the ALJ determined Plaintiff retained the following
residual functional capacity:
Plaintiff can perform light work except he is able to
frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb
ramps and stairs. He is also able to occasionally climb
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. He is able to have occasional
exposure to unprotected heights. He requires using a cane
(R. 14-19). At Step Four, the ALJ relied on the testimony of
the VE to conclude that Plaintiff is capable of performing
past relevant work as a short order cook or fried order cook.
the ALJ found Plaintiff is not disabled under the Social
district court reviewing a final . . . decision [of the
Commissioner of Social Security] pursuant to section 205(g)
of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), is
performing an appellate function.” Zambrana v.
Califano, 651 F.2d 842 (2d Cir. 1981). “The
findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any
fact, if supported by substantial evidence, [are]
conclusive….” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Accordingly, the district court does not make a de
novo determination of whether a plaintiff is disabled in
reviewing a denial of disability benefits. Id.;
Wagner v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
906 F.2d 856, 860 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, the court's
function is to ascertain whether the Commissioner applied the
correct legal principles in reaching her conclusion, and
whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence.
Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d 983, 985 (2d Cir. 1987).
Therefore, absent legal error, a decision of the Commissioner
cannot be set aside if it is supported by substantial
evidence. Berry v. Schweiker, 675 F.2d 464, 467 (2d
Cir. 1982). Further, if the Commissioner's decision is
supported by substantial evidence, that decision will be
sustained, even where there may also be substantial evidence
to support the claimant's contrary position. Schauer
v. Schweiker, 675 F.2d 55, 57 (2d Cir. 1982).
Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d
255, 258 (2d Cir. 1988) (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence
must be “more than a scintilla or touch of proof here
and there in the record.” Williams, 859 F.2d
seeks remand of this matter, arguing that the RFC the ALJ
assessed is unsupported by the evidence of record and is
internally inconsistent. Specifically with respect to his
inconsistency argument, Plaintiff posits that the limitation
to requiring use of a cane outdoors is incompatible with the
finding that he ...