United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
DONETTA W. AMBROSE, United States Senior District Judge
before the Court are Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF
Nos. 7 and 9). Both parties have filed Briefs in Support of
their Motions. (ECF Nos. 8 and 10). After careful
consideration of the submissions of the parties, and based on
my Opinion set forth below, I am granting in part and denying
in part Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No.
7) and denying Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment.
(ECF No. 9).
has brought this action for review of the final decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying his applications for
supplemental security income (“SSI”) and
disability insurance benefits (“BID”) pursuant to
the Social Security Act (“Act”). Plaintiff filed
his applications alleging he had been disabled since January
24, 2013. (ECF No. 5-5, pp. 2, 4). Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”), Alma S. deLeon, held a hearing on July
16, 2014. (ECF No. 5-2, pp. 31-70). On August 4, 2014, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Act. (ECF
No. 5-2, pp. 17-27).
exhausting all administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed the
instant action with this court. The parties have filed
Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 7 and 9). The
issues are now ripe for review.
Standard of Review
standard of review in social security cases is whether
substantial evidence exists in the record to support the
Commissioner's decision. Allen v. Bowen, 881
F.2d 37, 39 (3d Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence has been
defined as “more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate.” Ventura v. Shalala, 55 F.3d 900,
901 (3d Cir. 1995), quoting Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). Additionally, the
Commissioner's findings of fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, are conclusive. 42 U.S.C. Â§405(g);
Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 406 (3d Cir.
1979). A district court cannot conduct a de novo
review of the Commissioner's decision or re-weigh the
evidence of record. Palmer v. Apfel, 995 F.Supp.
549, 552 (E.D. Pa. 1998). Where the ALJ's findings of
fact are supported by substantial evidence, a court is bound
by those findings, even if the court would have decided the
factual inquiry differently. Hartranft v. Apfel, 181
F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir. 1999). To determine whether a finding
is supported by substantial evidence, however, the district
court must review the record as a whole. See, 5
eligible for social security benefits, the plaintiff must
demonstrate that he cannot engage in substantial gainful
activity because of a 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 at least 12 months. 42 U.S.C. Â§423(d)(1)(A);
Brewster v. Heckler, 786 F.2d 581, 583 (3d Cir.
Commissioner has provided the ALJ with a five-step sequential
analysis to use when evaluating the disabled status of each
claimant. 20 C.F.R. '404.1520(a). The ALJ must determine:
(1) whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity; (2) if not, whether the claimant has a
severe impairment; (3) if the claimant has a severe
impairment, whether it meets or equals the criteria listed in
20 C.F.R., pt. 404, subpt. P., appx. 1; (4) if the impairment
does not satisfy one of the impairment listings, whether the
claimant's impairments prevent him from performing his
past relevant work; and (5) if the claimant is incapable of
performing his past relevant work, whether he can perform any
other work which exists in the national economy, in light of
his age, education, work experience and residual functional
capacity. 20 C.F.R. '404.1520. The claimant carries the
initial burden of demonstrating by medical evidence that he
is unable to return to his previous employment (steps 1-4).
Dobrowolsky, 606 F.2d at 406. Once the claimant
meets this burden, the burden of proof shifts to the
Commissioner to show that the claimant can engage in
alternative substantial gainful activity (step 5).
district court, after reviewing the entire record may affirm,
modify, or reverse the decision with or without remand to the
Commissioner for rehearing. Podedworny v. Harris,
745 F.2d 210, 221 (3d Cir. 1984).
Residual Functional Capacity
asserts that the ALJ “failed to provide appropriate
weight to all of the treating source opinions in the
record.” (ECF No. 8, pp. 10-12). In support thereof,
Plaintiff essentially submits that there is substantial
evidence to support that he is not able to physically or
mentally do the work set forth in the ALJ's RFC
finding. Id. To be clear, the standard is
not whether there is evidence to establish Plaintiff's
position but, rather, is whether there is substantial
evidence to support the ALJ's finding. Allen v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 37, 39 (3d Cir. 1989). Thus, this
support for Plaintiff's argument is misplaced.
in one sentence, Plaintiff cites case law that “[i]t is
error of law to reject the treating physician's opinion
without adequate explanation.” (ECF ...