United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO AFFIRM COMMISSIONER'S
A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Sennello (“Plaintiff”), proceeding pro
se, filed a Social Security disability and supplemental
security income claim under Section 205(g) of the Social
Security Act, as amended by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Nancy
Berryhill, Deputy Commissioner for Operations
(“Commissioner”) moved for an order affirming the
Commissioner's decision. Mr. Sennello has not responded.
following greasons, the Court GRANTS
Defendant's motion to affirm the Commissioner's
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Sennello alleges that he suffers from chronic back and
shoulder pain due to degenerative diseases in his cervical
spine and a central disc protrusion in his lumbar spine. ECF
No. 10-7, at 61. On February 22, 2015, Mr. Sennello saw Dr.
Panagiotis Kompotiatis about his chronic back pain and
explained that he had both a history of lifting heavy objects
and increasing pain radiating from his lower back and neck.
Id. A physical examination and March 13, 2015 MRI
revealed that his cervical and lumbar spine revealed
foraminal narrowing, spinal stenosis, neural foramen, cord
compression, degenerative disk disease, and a small disk
protrusion. Id. Beginning March 11, 2015, Mr.
Sennello reported to physical therapy twice a week for eight
weeks and his physical therapist gave him an at-home exercise
plan. Id. Mr. Sennello's May 11, 2015 discharge
indicated that he did not meet his long-term therapy goals.
At a May 13, 2015 follow-up visit, Dr. Kompotiatis allegedly
referred Mr. Sennello for neurosurgery treatment.
addition to his physical limitations, Mr. Sennello claims
that he suffers from depression, mood disorders, impulse
control disorder, bipolar affective disorder, and anxiety.
Id. He alleges that symptoms included loss of
appetite, decreased focus, and lack of energy. Id.
Throughout his treatment, Dr. Ljudmil Kljusev noted that Mr.
Sennello's mood and affect were restricted and he showed
signs of paranoia and pressured speech. Id.
Sennello claims to have continued psychiatric treatment with
Dr. Linda Wolf to regain the level of concentration needed to
perform his job without stress distractions and impulses.
Id. at 62. Dr. Lee Combrinck-Graham also noted that
Mr. Sennello had a history of psychiatric treatment lasting
more than twelve months, that he had experienced social
withdrawal, and that he had received treatment at Lifebridge
Community Services since May of 2014. Id. Moreover,
Mr. Sennello's depressive symptoms affected his ability
to perform daily activities, which resulted in limited social
functioning, deficiencies in concentration and persistence,
and an inability to complete tasks on time. Id.
These deficiencies allegedly resulted in deteriorating
work-life experiences. Id.
of alleged right hip osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis,
cervical degenerative disc disease, and bipolar disorder, Mr.
Sennello sought Social Security disability benefits. ECF No.
1, at 2. Following a denial of his application for disability
benefits, Mr. Sennello requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), which occurred
on December 7, 2015. Id. at 3. At the ALJ hearing,
Mr. Sennello made two arguments in favor of receiving Social
Security disability benefits.
Mr. Sennello's degenerative disc disease and nerve root
compression have led to lower back pain, neck pain, and
occasional right hand weakness. ECF No. 10-7, at 62. This
caused reduced strength and range of motion in those areas,
resulting in severe medical condition under 1.04(A).
Mr. Sennello is unable to meet the demands of his past or any
other work due to his medical conditions. Mr. Sennello argued
that he was unable to undertake his former job as a material
handler lifting up to fifty pounds during the twelve-hour
shifts because he could no longer handle the walking,
climbing, and standing associated with the job due to his
physical pain. Id. at 63. Mr. Sennello also argued
that he would not be able to attain gainful employment
because of the above-mentioned limitations in his back, legs,
shoulders, and hands. Id. In his view, the
combination of physical limitations and mental health
challenges resulted in an inability to sustain full-time
hearing, Mr. Sennello testified that he could work part-time,
drive, dress himself, bathe himself, groom himself, do
laundry, go grocery shopping, clean the house, but that
completing household chores created some difficulty. ECF No.
10-3, at 49-50, 53. Mr. Sennello also cares for his wife, who
is on disability. Id. at 53. Mr. Sennello testified
that he received unemployment benefits, which indicated that
he was willing and able to work. Id. at 49. But he
argued that he could not work a full eight-hour day.
Id. Mr. Sennello claimed that he had a driver's
license and would be able to drive up to an hour.
Id. at 52. He also testified that he had back, neck,
and hip pain every day, and he testified that walking,
lifting, or twisting aggravated his pain. Id. at
also heard from a vocational expert who testified to Mr.
Sennello's ability to work as an assembler, small
products packer, and bench inspector. Id. at 8. In
his post-hearing rebuttal, Mr. Sennello maintained that his
debilitating conditions prohibited him from substantial
gainful activity. ECF No. 10-7, at 65. Mr. Sennello objected
to the four components of the expert's testimony and
argued that: (1) the expert lacked qualifications to testify
to jobs in the local, regional, or national economy; (2) the
expert's methodology lacked relevant job data; (3) that
jobs can be performed by unskilled workers; and (4) the
expert's response to a hypothetical limitation on his
ability to sit and stand. Id. at 65-67. Mr. Sennello
ultimately questioned whether there were enough jobs in the
national economy for him to be gainfully employed and argued
that the unfavorable decision on the matter required a
supplemental hearing. Id. at 68-69.
January 28, 2016, the ALJ denied Mr. Sennello's claim.
ECF No. 1, at 3. And, on August 22, 2017, the Social Security
Appeals Council affirmed the decision, which Mr. Sennello
received on August 29, 2017. Id. According to the
Appeals Council, although Mr. Sennello did not file his
request for review on time, there was good reason for the
delay. ECF No. 1-1. The Appeals Council nevertheless denied
his request because it found no reason to disturb the
ALJ's decision. Id. On appeal, Mr. Sennello