Claudio v. Commissioner of Social Security
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER adopting 13 Report and Recommendations, granting 10 Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Commissioner of Social Security. Having found no clear error, this Court adopts the R&R in full. Defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the motion at ECF No. 12 and this case. (As further set forth in this Order.) (Signed by Judge George B. Daniels on 1/10/2017) (mro)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
-againstCOMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
15 Civ. 9847 (GBD) (JCF)
GEORGE B. DANIELS, United States District Judge:
Pro se Plaintiff Ruben Claudio seeks review by this Court of the Commissioner of Social
Security's ("Commissioner") final decision denying his application for disability insurance
benefits ("DIB"). (Compl., (ECF No. 2).)
This matter was referred to Magistrate Judge James C. Francis on January 11, 2016.
(ECF No. 5.) Defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (ECF No. 10.) Plaintiff did not oppose the motion. 1
Before this Court is Magistrate Judge Francis's Report and Recommendation ("R&R")
recommending that Defendant's unopposed motion for judgment on the pleadings be granted. 2
(Id. at 1.) This Court fully adopts those recommendations.
I. LEGAL ST AND ARD
This Court may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings set forth in the
R&R. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l)(C). When no party files objections, the Court may adopt the R&R
This Court notes that Plaintiff explained to the administrative law judge ("ALJ") that "were he not to
pursue the appeal of his disability claim, he risked losing [other] financial benefits .... " (Report and
Recommendation ("R&R"), ECF No. 13, at 10 (citing R. 25).)
The relevant procedural and factual background is set forth in greater detail in the R&R, and 1s
incorporated herein. (See R&R at 1-4.)
if "there is no clear error on the face of the record." Adee Motor Cars, LLC v. Amato, 388 F.
Supp. 2d 250, 253 (S.D.N.Y. 2005) (quoting Nelson v. Smith, 618 F. Supp. 1186, 1189
Magistrate Judge Francis advised the parties that failure to file timely objections to the
R&R would constitute a waiver of those objections on appeal. (R&R at 23); see also 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(l)(C); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). As of the date of this Order, no party has filed objections.
Judgment on the pleadings is appropriate when the material facts are undisputed and a
party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law based on the contents of the pleadings. See, e.g.,
Sellers v. MC. Floor Crajiers, Inc., 842 F.2d 639, 642 (2d Cir. 1988); Carballo ex rel. Cortes v.
Apfel, 34 F. Supp. 2d 208, 213-14 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) provides that "[t]he findings of the Commissioner ... as to any fact, if
supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive." 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see Veino v.
Barnhart, 312 F.3d 578, 586 (2d Cir. 2002). The term "substantial" does not require that the
evidence be overwhelming, but it must be "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229
A district court does review the Commissioner's decision de nova. Halloran v. Barnhart,
362 F.3d 28, 31 (2d Cir. 2004). Rather, the court's inquiry is limited to ensuring that the
Commissioner applied the correct legal standard and that his decision is supported by substantial
evidence. See Hickson v. Astrue, No. 09 Civ. 2049 (DLI) (JMA), 2011 WL 1099484, at *2
(E.D .N. Y. Mar. 22, 2011 ). When the Commissioner's determination is supported by substantial
evidence, the decision must be upheld, "even if there also is substantial evidence for the
plaintiff's position." Morillo v. Apfel, 150 F. Supp. 2d 540, 545 (S.D.N.Y. 2001). That is, a
district court may only set aside the ALJ's factual findings "if a reasonable factfinder would have
had to conclude otherwise." Brault v. Soc. Sec. Admin. Comm 'r, 683 F.3d 443, 448 (2d Cir.
2012) (emphasis omitted) (quoting Warren v. Shala/a, 29 F.3d 1287, 1289 (8th Cir. 1994)).
II. THE RECORD PROVIDES SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE FOR THE ALJ'S
CONCLUSION THAT PLAINTIFF WAS INELIGIBLE FOR DIB
Using the five-step sequential inquiry outlined at 20 C.F.R. § 423(d)(2)(A), the R&R
properly found that substantial evidence supported Administrative Law Judge Joseph K. Rowe's
August 6, 2014 determination that Plaintiff was not disabled on or after April 12, 2013, the date
he filed his application for benefits. (R&R, at 14.) Upon thorough review of the underlying
Record, the R&R properly concluded that that Plaintiff satisfied steps one-Plaintiff had not
worked since April 12, 2013-and two-Plaintiff had a severe impairment that caused some
work-related functional limitations. (Id.) However, Plaintiff failed to satisfy step three: none of
his impairments had the medically-equivalent severity of the impairments enumerated in the
regulations. (Id. at 14-15, 18.)
As to this point, Plaintiff testified at the hearing before ALJ
Rowe that his condition was under control and that nothing was really keeping him from work.
(Id. at 21 (citing Administrative Record ("R."), at 25, 26, 121-25).) The objective medical
evidence also supports this finding as Plaintiff's regular tests for viral load and immune cell
count indicate that his condition is asymptomatic and under control. (Id. (citing R. at 23 8-41 ). )
Plaintiff had no past relevant work (step four), and jobs Plaintiff could perform existed m
significant numbers in the national economy (step five). (Id. at 15.)
The R&R therefore properly recommended that Defendant's motion for judgment on the
pleadings be granted, as the Record supports the ALJ' s finding that Plaintiff did not satisfy steps
three through five of the five-step inquiry. (R&R, at 18-23.)
Having found no clear error, this Court adopts the R&R in full. Defendant's motion for
judgment on the pleadings is GRANTED.
The Clerk of Court is directed to close the motion at ECF No. 12 and this case.
Dated: New York, New York
January 10, 2017
: \ f
United States District Judge
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