Gannett v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER: It is ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings is DENIED and the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED. The Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED and Plaintiff's Complaint is DISMISSED. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case. Signed by Judge David N. Hurd on 12/23/2014. (mc)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
LACHMAN, GORTON LAW FIRM
Attorneys for Plaintiff
57 Court Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
PETER A. GORTON, ESQ.
OFFICE OF REGIONAL GENERAL COUNSEL
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION REGION II
Attorneys for Defendant
26 Federal Plaza, Room 3904
New York, NY 10278
CHARLES E. ROBERTS, ESQ.
BENIL ABRAHAM, ESQ.
DAVID N. HURD
United States District Judge
MEMORANDUM–DECISION and ORDER
Plaintiff Melissa Gannett ("Gannett" or "plaintiff") brings this action, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), seeking review of defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's ("Commissioner" or "defendant") final decision denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The parties
have filed their briefs as well as the Administrative Record on Appeal.1 Oral argument was
heard on December 19, 2014, in Utica, New York. Decision was reserved.
Gannett filed applications for DIB and SSI claiming a period of disability beginning on
July 25, 2009. R. at 97-102.2 These applications were initially denied on March 25,
2010. Id. at 51-56. At plaintiff's request, a video hearing was held before an Administrative
Law Judge ("ALJ") on May 6, 2011. Id. at 34-48. The ALJ rendered a written decision on
July 25, 2011, concluding that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social
Security Act from July 25, 2009 through the date of his decision. Id. at 17-29. Plaintiff timely
appealed this unfavorable disability determination to the Appeals Council.
On June 3, 2013, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner
when the Appeals Council denied Gannett's request for review. R. at 1-4. Plaintiff filed this
action on June 20, 2013, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's denial of benefits.
Because the parties are familiar with the underlying facts, they are discussed only to the
extent necessary to address plaintiff's appeal.
A. Standard of Review
A court's review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to determining whether
the decision is supported by substantial evidence and the correct legal standards were
applied. Poupore v. Astrue, 566 F.3d 303, 305 (2d Cir. 2009) (per curiam). "Substantial
Pursuant to General Order No. 18 of the Northern District of New York, consideration of this matter
will proceed as if both parties had accompanied their briefs with a motion for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).
Citations to "R." refer to the Administrative Record.
evidence means 'more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Id. (quoting Consol.
Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)).
"To determine on appeal whether an ALJ's findings are supported by substantial
evidence, a reviewing court considers the whole record, examining the evidence from both
sides, because an analysis of the substantiality of the evidence must also include that which
detracts from its weight." Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d 255, 258 (2d Cir. 1988) (citing
Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 488 (1951)). If the Commissioner's
disability determination is supported by substantial evidence, that determination is
conclusive. See id.
Where evidence is deemed susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the
Commissioner's decision must be upheld—even if the court's independent review of the
evidence may differ from the Commissioner's. Rutherford v. Schweiker, 685 F.2d 60, 62 (2d
Cir. 1982); Rosado v. Sullivan, 805 F. Supp. 147, 153 (S.D.N.Y. 1992). However, "where
there is a reasonable basis for doubting whether the Commissioner applied the appropriate
legal standards," the decision should not be affirmed even though the ultimate conclusion
reached is arguably supported by substantial evidence. Martone v. Apfel, 70 F. Supp. 2d
145, 148 (N.D.N.Y. 1999) (citing Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d 983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987)).
B. Disability Determination—The Five-Step Evaluation Process
The Social Security Act defines "disability" as the "inability to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected
to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). In
addition, the Act requires that a claimant's:
physical or mental impairment or impairments [must be] of such
severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but
cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience,
engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in
the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the
immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy
exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
Id. § 423(d)(2)(A).
The ALJ must follow a five-step evaluation process in deciding whether an individual is
disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. At step one, the ALJ must determine
whether the claimant has engaged in substantial gainful activity. A claimant engaged in
substantial gainful activity is not disabled, and is therefore not entitled to
benefits. Id. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b).
If the claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity, then step two requires
the ALJ to determine whether the claimant has a severe impairment or combination of
impairments which significantly restricts his physical or mental ability to perform basic work
activities. Id. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c).
If the claimant is found to suffer from a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, then step three requires the ALJ to determine whether, based solely on medical
evidence, the impairment or combination of impairments meets or equals an impairment
listed in Appendix 1 of the regulations (the "Listings"). Id. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d); see
also id. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1. If the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments
meets one or more of the Listings, then the claimant is "presumptively disabled." Martone,
70 F. Supp. 2d at 149 (citing Ferraris v. Heckler, 728 F.2d 582, 584 (2d Cir. 1984)).
If the claimant is not presumptively disabled, step four requires the ALJ to assess
whether—despite the claimant's severe impairment—he has the residual functional capacity
("RFC") to perform his past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f). The burden
of proof with regard to these first four steps is on the claimant. Perez v. Chater, 77 F.3d 41,
46 (2d Cir. 1996) (citing Carroll v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 705 F.2d 638, 642 (2d
If it is determined that the claimant cannot perform his past relevant work, the burden
shifts to the Commissioner for step five. Perez, 77 F.3d at 46. This step requires the ALJ to
examine whether the claimant can do any type of work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g),
416.920(g). The regulations provide that factors such as a claimant's age, physical ability,
education, and previous work experience should be evaluated to determine whether a
claimant retains the RFC to perform work in any of five categories of jobs: very heavy,
heavy, medium, light, and sedentary. Perez, 77 F.3d at 46 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpt. P,
App. 2). "[T]he Commissioner need only show that there is work in the national economy
that the claimant can do; [she] need not provide additional evidence of the claimant's residual
functional capacity." Poupore, 566 F.3d at 306 (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1560(c)(2)).
C. ALJ's Decision
The ALJ found that Gannett had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July
25, 2009, the alleged onset date. R. at 22. The ALJ next found that plaintiff's bipolar
disorder, personality disorder, and alcohol abuse in partial remission were severe
impairments, but that this combination of severe impairments did not meet or equal any of
the Listings. Id. at 22-24. The ALJ then determined that plaintiff retained the RFC to perform
a full range of work at all exertional levels. Id. at 24. Specifically, the ALJ found that:
Mentally, [plaintiff] retains the ability (on a sustained basis) to
understand, carry out, and remember simple and some complex
instructions; respond appropriately to supervision and co-workers
with occasional social interaction; respond appropriately to usual
work situations; and deal with changes in a routine work setting.
Based on these findings and Gannett's age, education, and work experience, the ALJ
determined that jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff
could perform. R. at 28. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled within
the meaning of the Act. Id. at 29.
D. Plaintiff's Appeal
On appeal, Gannett argues the ALJ: (1) failed to properly assess all of her severe
impairments; (2) incorrectly weighed the medical opinions in the record; and (3) improperly
calculated her RFC.
1. The ALJ's Step Two Determination
The ALJ found that Gannett's bipolar disorder, personality disorder, and alcohol abuse
in partial remission were severe impairments. Plaintiff argues her kleptomania, learning
disability, and insomnia are also severe. Pl.'s Mem., ECF No. 11, 9-10.
At Step Two, the ALJ must determine whether a claimant has a severe impairment
that significantly limits her physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c); 416.920(c). Examples of basic work activities include: "walking,
standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying, or handling . . . seeing, hearing,
and speaking . . . [u]nderstanding, carrying out, and remember simple instructions . . . [u]se
of judgment . . . [r]esponding appropriately to supervision, co-workers and usual work
situations." Zenzel v. Astrue, 993 F. Supp. 2d 146, 152 (N.D.N.Y. 2012) (Kahn, J.) (citation
omitted) (adopting Report & Recommendation of Bianchini, M.J.)
Importantly, the claimant bears the burden of presenting evidence establishing such
severity. Zenzel, 993 F. Supp. 2d at 152. And while the Second Circuit has held that this
step is generally limited to "screen[ing] out de minimis claims," the "mere presence of a
disease or impairment, or establishing that a person has been diagnosed or treated for a
disease or impairment" is insufficient to render a condition "severe." Id. (citations omitted).
First, Gannett asserts her kleptomania is a severe impairment because "[a] person
who has a history of being terminated because of her uncontrollable urges . . . is not like[ly]
to be able to maintain regular employment." Pl.'s Mem. at 10.
Even accepting this argument as true, it is unavailing here. Gannett does identify a
September 2009 treatment record diagnosing her with kleptomania and noting that she was
fired from her last job "due to stealing food in the cafeteria." R. at 221. But merely
establishing a diagnosis is insufficient to render a condition severe. Zenzel, 993 F. Supp. 2d
at 152. A claimant bears the further burden of presenting evidence establishing how this
impairment significantly limits her ability to do basic work activities. Id.
Gannett has not done so here. There is no evidence recounting a history of job
terminations stemming from her kleptomania. Nor is there evidence otherwise
demonstrating, either directly or indirectly, significant limitations associated with plaintiff's
kleptomania that would render this condition "severe" within the meaning of the regulations.
Plaintiff's further assertion—that the ALJ misunderstood her kleptomania as "bad
behavior"—is similarly unavailing. Pl.'s Mem. at 10. The ALJ's discussion on this point
contains citations referencing plaintiff's alcohol consumption and DWI conviction, not her
kleptomania. R. at 221, 409. Accordingly, the ALJ did not err in failing to find her
ii. Learning Disability
Next, Gannett argues that she has a severe learning disability. Pl.'s Mem. at
11. Plaintiff identifies a January 2000 psychological evaluation noting "she was diagnosed
as suffering from a learning disability" in the fourth grade. R. at 336. Plaintiff focuses on this
psychological evaluation because it places her in the "low average" range of intellectual
functioning. Id. at 338. She also points to evidence detailing her history of educational
accommodations as well as treatment records noting her difficulties with concentration and
attending to tasks. Pl.'s Mem at 11.
A review of the challenged portion of the ALJ's decision, which employs the "special
technique" for evaluating mental impairments required by the regulations, reveals no basis
for remand. The ALJ acknowledged all of the evidence plaintiff points to here, including the
January 2000 assessment's findings, which notably concludes that plaintiff's academic skills
are "generally adequate." R. at 340. In addition, the ALJ also noted plaintiff's successful
completion of a four-year college degree in health science, her current enrollment in a
nursing program, and treatment records during the onset period indicating that plaintiff's
intelligence was "average." R. at 23-24. On this basis, the ALJ concluded that the evidence
"as a whole" did not support a finding of severity. Id. at 24.
Gannett attempts to re-cast these facts as evidence of severity, arguing that her
completion of a four-year college degree reinforces her allegations of a learning disability
because it took her twelve years to complete a bachelor's degree. Pl.'s Mem. at 12. But the
mere fact plaintiff only takes classes part-time and has a "history of signing up for a full
semester of courses" and then "drop[ping] several of the classes" is not per se evidence of
impairments stemming from a learning disability. Rather, a review of the medical evidence
suggests this erratic behavior is causally related to plaintiff's bipolar disorder, a conclusion
the ALJ shared. This is evidenced by, among other things, his finding that plaintiff's bipolar
disorder was a "severe" impairment warranting further analysis. Where, as here, such
evidence is deemed susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's
decision must be upheld. Rutherford, 685 F.2d at 62.
Finally, Gannet contends that her insomnia is a severe impairment because it caused
a lack of energy, difficulty staying on task, forgetfulness, and difficulty concentrating. Pl.'s
Mem. at 13. But although there are various references in the record to a diagnosis of
"insomnia" or ongoing "trouble sleeping," the treatment records plaintiff identifies in support
of this argument do not associate these disorders with her concentration issues and
forgetfulness. Rather, these records consistently identify plaintiff's bipolar disorder, which the
ALJ found to be severe, as the cause of these problems. See id. (citing e.g., R. at 226, 250,
309, 312, 332, 337, 350). As noted above, merely being diagnosed with an impairment does
not render it severe. Zenzel, 993 F. Supp. 2d at 152.
2. Medical Opinions
Gannett next challenges the ALJ's assessment of the various medical opinions in the
i. Sarah Harding, LCSW3
First, Gannett claims the ALJ improperly afforded "limited weight" to the medical
Sarah Harding's surname was initially "Miles," a fact which caused the ALJ some confusion.
opinions of Sarah Harding, a licensed clinical social worker with whom plaintiff consistently
treated. Pl.'s Mem. at 13. Although social workers are not considered "acceptable medical
sources," their opinions should nevertheless be considered in evaluating a claimant's
impairments. Saxon v. Astrue, 781 F. Supp. 2d 92, 104 (N.D.N.Y. 2011) (Mordue, C.J.).
Gannett identifies a March 31, 2011 questionnaire completed by Ms. Harding which
indicates plaintiff has a number of "medium" limitations in mental functioning, with only her
ability to complete a normal work week identifies as "marked." R. at 416-18. This
questionnaire defines "marked" as an area of "serious limitation" that causes a "substantial
loss" in the ability to function. Id. at 416. However, as the ALJ notes and the Commissioner
explains, this finding is unsupported by Ms. Harding's progress notes, which reflect a series
of "relatively normal mental status examinations with reported improvement in [ ]
symptoms." R. at 25.
It is also rebutted by other record evidence. For instance, although Gannett claims the
ALJ completely failed to consider the findings of Mahfuzar Rahman, M.D., a staff psychiatrist
at Broome County, the ALJ's decision actually cites some of Dr. Rahman's treatment notes,
including one noting plaintiff's Global Assessment Functioning ("GAF") score between 55 and
65, a result indicative of only "moderate" symptoms. R. at 25 (citing R. at 219).
Further, to the extent Ms. Harding renders opinions to the effect that "employment
could exacerbate [Gannett's] symptoms" and she should therefore "refrain from finding
employment," those are statements on an issue reserved to the Commissioner—namely, the
determination or decision of disability. Barringer v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 358 F. Supp. 2d 67,
80 (N.D.N.Y. 2005) (Sharpe, J.). In sum, the ALJ properly recognized Ms. Harding's status
as an "other source" under the regulations and, after analyzing the substance of her
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opinions, afforded her only "limited weight."
ii. Gary D. Dean, M.D.
Next, Gannett contends the ALJ improperly gave "little weight" to a March 12, 2010
letter by Gary D. Dean, M.D., which notes that plaintiff has had "significant difficulty attending
to tasks, following through, continuing job performance, and continuing her college education
because of her bipolar illness." Pl.'s Mem. at 18-19 (citing R. at 226).
The opinion of a treating physician, such as Dr. Dean, is entitled to controlling weight
unless it is unsupported by the medical evidence or is inconsistent with other substantial
evidence in the record. Balodis v. Leavitt, 704 F. Supp. 2d 255, 264-65 (E.D.N.Y. 2010).
Where, as here, the ALJ decides against giving the opinion of a treating physician controlling
weight, he must "give good reasons in his notice of determination or decision" for the weight
he ultimately chooses to assign. Id. (citations omitted).
Here, the ALJ gave "little weight" to Dr. Dean's letter because he found it was
superseded by Dr. Dean's later medical source statement, dated July 2010, which indicates
Gannett has no trouble understanding, remembering, or carrying out instructions, no
problems interacting appropriately with co-workers and the public, and no problems
responding to changes in a routine work setting. R. at 331-32. This statement also notes
that plaintiff's ability to concentrate, stay on task, and complete work is affected by her
disorder, but does not indicate the significance of this limitation. Id. at 332. The ALJ gave
"great weight" to this later statement by Dr. Dean, noting its consistency with his more recent
treatment notes indicating plaintiff was doing "pretty well" and that, despite the necessity of
ongoing treatment, there were "no major issues or concerns." Id. at 347.
Although an ALJ may not reject a treating physician's opinion based "solely" on
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internal conflicts in clinical findings, he must nevertheless "weigh all of the evidence and
make a disability determination based on the totality of that evidence." Barringer, 358 F.
Supp. 2d at 80 (citation omitted); see also Wavercak v. Astrue, 420 F. App'x 91, 94 (2d Cir.
2011) (summary order). The ALJ satisfied his obligation here—he explained the weight
accorded to Dr. Dean's opinions, articulated an acceptable rationale for discounting the
March 2010 letter, and identified conflicting record evidence, such as the opinion of the state
agency medical consultant, in making his ultimate conclusion.
iii. State Agency Medical Consultant
Finally, Gannett claims the ALJ erred in also giving "great weight" to the opinion of
state agency medical consultant L. Blackwell, Ph.D, who rendered her opinion in March
2010, before a "significant portion of [plaintiff's] mental health treatment [ ] occurred." Pl.'s
Mem. at 21.
"State agency physicians are qualified as experts in the evaluation of medical issues
in disability claims. As such their opinions may constitute substantial evidence if they are
consistent with the record as a whole." Barringer, 358 F. Supp. 2d at 79. Gannett seems to
take issue with the reliability of Dr. Blackwell's March 2010 opinion while simultaneously
endorsing Dr. Dean's March 2010 letter—both rendered before a significant portion of
plaintiff's medical treatment occurred. It is true that Dr. Blackwell reviewed plaintiff's file while
she continued a course of ongoing mental health treatment, but there is nothing per se
objectionable about that fact. Plaintiff's argument on this point would be more persuasive if,
as in other cases, the ALJ had chosen to rely solely on a state agency medical opinion while
completely discounting conflicting opinions rendered by other treating sources. For example,
the Second Circuit has identified error where a non-examining consultant's opinion, based on
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only a partial medical record, was used to override a treating physician's entire opinion. E.g.,
Gunter v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 361 F. App'x 197, 199 (2d Cir. 2010) (summary order).
But that is not the case here. The ALJ's written decision indicates that he considered
and assigned weight to the opinions of Gannett's treating sources, as well as Dr. Blackwell's
opinion, as part of his narrative discussion.
3. RFC Determination
Lastly, Gannett contends the ALJ's RFC determination is deficient in two
respects. First, plaintiff argues that the evidence "supports a finding that [she] has significant
limitations in her abilities to concentrate, stay on task, and remember." Pl.'s Mem. at 22.
Second, plaintiff asserts the ALJ failed to consider her "episodic" inability to work on a regular
and continuing basis. Id. at 23.
A plaintiff's RFC is defined as "what an individual can still do despite his or her
limitations." Melville v. Apfel, 198 F.3d 45, 52 (2d Cir. 1999). "Ordinarily, RFC is the
individual's maximum remaining ability to do sustained work activities in an ordinary work
setting on a regular and continuing basis, and the RFC assessment must include a
discussion of the individual's abilities on that basis. A 'regular and continuing basis' means 8
hours a day, for 5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule." Id.
When making this determination, the ALJ must consider a plaintiff's "physical abilities,
mental abilities, symptomatology, including pain and other limitations that could interfere with
work activities on a regular and continuing basis." Judge v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 12-CV482 (GLS/VEB), 2013 WL 785522, at *3 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 1, 2013) (Bianchini, M.J.) ((citing 20
C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)) (Report & Recommendation), adopted by 2013 WL 785641 (N.D.N.Y.
Mar. 1, 2013) (Sharpe, C.J.).
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At oral argument, Gannett's counsel clarified this first challenge by asserting that the
ALJ's reliance on Dr. Blackwell's opinion, rendered on an incomplete medical record, cannot
constitute "substantial evidence" and therefore his finding of "no diminishment of function" in
plaintiff's RFC was error. But this argument does not meet the threshold necessary for
reversing the Commissioner's determination, which limits a reviewing court to determining
only whether the challenged decision is supported by substantial evidence and whether the
correct legal standards were applied. Poupore, 566 F.3d at 305. Although plaintiff
undoubtedly identifies some evidence in support of her position, the ALJ applied the correct
legal standards in reaching his conclusion which, as previously discussed, included assigning
weight to various medical opinions in the record, including the opinions of Dr. Blackwell, Dr.
Dean, and social worker Harding.
Gannett's second assertion is that the ALJ failed to understand the affect her "likely
absenteeism" would have on her ability to work on a regular and continuing basis. Pl.'s
Mem. at 23. Plaintiff identifies a questionnaire completed by social worker Harding which
indicates plaintiff would reasonably be expected to miss work two to three times per
month.4 R. at 417.
Gannett correctly notes that, where an ALJ finds limitations in a claimant's ability to
perform in a work setting, he must also consider the effect of a claimant's actual or likely
absenteeism on her ability to perform work with reasonable regularity. See, e.g., Beck v.
Colvin, 2013 WL 5533571, at *4 (W.D.N.Y. Oct. 7, 2013). Plaintiff also correctly notes that
Gannett also identifies a June 11, 2012 questionnaire completed by Dr. Dean that reaches a similar
conclusion. However, the ALJ's written decision was issued on July 25, 2011, nearly eleven months earlier.
Plaintiff does not urge remand for additional proceedings based on this later-rendered opinion. In any event,
remand on this basis is unnecessary because it would not have been reasonably likely to compel a different
outcome. Seignious v. Astrue, 905 F. Supp. 2d 459, 463 (W.D.N.Y. 2012).
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vocational experts in other cases have opined that missing three or more days of work per
month may render a claimant unemployable. Id. And in a similar vein, courts have held that
the mere ability to complete college course work is not necessarily equivalent to the ability to
satisfactorily complete full-time work within the meaning of the regulations. Id.
Nevertheless, the ALJ did not err in this respect. As discussed above, the ALJ
properly weighed the medical opinions of record and, in particular, only afforded "limited
weight" to Ms. Harding's opinions before ultimately concluding, after a thorough narrative
discussion, that Gannett did not suffer such limitations in her ability to perform in a work
setting. R. at 24.
But even accepting Ms. Harding's conclusion wholesale, it only suggests total monthly
absences that may reach this three-day-per-month threshold. Gannett does not identify, and
the record does not reveal, any medical opinion properly before the ALJ beyond this single
questionnaire by Ms. Harding which suggests this level of absenteeism. Of course, an ALJ is
not required to discuss every piece of evidence in the record or reconcile every inconsistency
in the record. Mongeur v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1040 (2d Cir. 1983). And to the extent
plaintiff argues that this likely absenteeism may be inferred from her academic records and
other performance, the conclusions she urges are at odds with the ALJ's own
conclusions—conclusions he drew after a detailed consideration of the same academic
records, ongoing treatment notes, and medical opinions.
Indeed, a review of the ALJ's thorough written decision indicates an awareness of
Gannett's shifting, episodic symptomatology and an understanding of the limits and effect of
plaintiff's ongoing treatment and improving status, albeit in a "two steps forward, one step
back" fashion. Although plaintiff identifies some evidence to support her own arguments, the
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ALJ was well within his province to conclude, as he did, that there was substantial evidence
that plaintiff was "limited, but not disabled, by her psychological impairments." R. at 27.
After reviewing the entire record, including the briefs, ALJ's decision, transcript of the
hearing, medical records, and other evidence, the Commissioner's decision is not based on
legal error and ample evidence exists in the record as a whole that "a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support [the] conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401.
Therefore, it is
1. Gannett's motion for judgment on the pleadings is DENIED;
2. The Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED;
3. The Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED; and
4. Gannett's complaint is DISMISSED.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to close the case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: December 23, 2014
Utica, New York.
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