United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PENDING MOTIONS
A. Richardson United States Magistrate Judge
Leroy Demoranville (“plaintiff”) appeals the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application
for Social Security Disability Benefits in a decision dated
September 18, 2015. Plaintiff timely appealed to this court.
Currently pending are plaintiff's motion for an order
reversing and remanding his case for a hearing (Dkt. #14-2)
and defendant's motion to affirm the decision of the
Commissioner. (Dkt. #15.)
reasons that follow, the plaintiff's motion to reverse,
or in the alternative, remand is GRANTED and the
Commissioner's motion to affirm is DENIED.
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, 844 (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
court may 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 and 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).
absent legal error, this court may not set aside the decision
of the Commissioner 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 plaintiff's contrary position. Schauer
v. Schweiker, 675 F.2d 55, 57 (2d Cir. 1982).
Second Circuit has defined substantial evidence as
“‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'”
Williams on Behalf of 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 at 258.
Social Security Act(“SSA”) provides that benefits
are payable to individuals who have a disability. 42 U.S.C.
§ 423(a)(1). “The term ‘disability'
means . . . [an] inability to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairment. . . .” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1). In order to determine whether a claimant is
disabled within the meaning of the SSA, the ALJ must follow a
five-step evaluation process as promulgated by the
order to be considered disabled, an individual's
impairment must be “of such severity that he is not
only unable to do his previous work but cannot . . . engage
in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in
the national economy.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).
“[W]ork which exists in the national economy means work
which exists in significant numbers either in the region
where such individual lives or in several regions of the
initially filed for disability insurance benefits under Title
II on June 23, 2015. (R. 195.) Plaintiff alleged a disability
onset date of April 22, 2015. (R. 90.) At the time of
application, plaintiff alleged that he suffered from
precancerous polyps in his colon, arthritis in his back and
left shoulder, stomach and urinary problems, a spot on his
lung, and high blood pressure. (R. 90.) The initial
application was denied on September 18, 2015, and again on
March 30, 2016, upon reconsideration. (R. 90-97, 99-104.)
Plaintiff then filed for an administrative hearing which was
held by ALJ V.P. McGinn (hereinafter the “ALJ”)
on September 26, 2017. (R. 32-61.) The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on October 27, 2017. (R. 12-25.) On
October 31, 2017, plaintiff sought a review by the Appeals
Council, which was denied on September 25, 2018. (R. 1-6.)
Plaintiff then filed this action seeking judicial review.
asserts that he is entitled to remand because the ALJ was not
properly appointed; the ALJ's determinations at step two
and five are not supported by substantial evidence; and the
ALJ failed to develop the record. (Pl. Br. 1, 8, 17, 18.) The
Court finds that although plaintiff's challenge regarding
the ALJ's appointment was untimely and the ALJ's step
two decision was supported by substantial evidence, the ALJ
failed to develop the record. The Court therefore remands the
ALJ's decision without considering plaintiff's
Plaintiff's Challenge Regarding the ALJ's Appointment
asserts that because the ALJ was not properly appointed when
he decided the case, plaintiff is entitled to ...