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. 11 and 14). Both parties have filed Briefs in Support of
their Motions. (ECF Nos. 12 and 15). After careful
consideration of the submissions of the parties, and based on
my Opinion set forth below, I am denying Plaintiff's
Motion (ECF No. 11) and granting Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 14).
brought this action for review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying an application for
child's insurance benefits and an application for
supplemental security income. Plaintiff filed his
applications alleging he has been disabled since January 22,
1997, the date of his birth. (ECF No. 9-7, pp. 2, 9).
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Melissa
Tenenbaum, held a hearing on May 24, 2017. (ECF No. 9-2, pp.
27-62). On September 7, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not disabled under the Social Security Act. (ECF No. 9-2,
exhausting all administrative remedies thereafter, Plaintiff
filed this action. The parties have filed Cross-Motions for
Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 11 and 14). 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. §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. §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).
argues that the ALJ erred by failing to explain why he did
not meet a listed impairment. (ECF No. 12, pp. 1-3). In step
three of the analysis set forth above, an ALJ must determine
if the claimant's impairment meets or is equal to one of
the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R., Pt. 404, Subpt. P, Appx.
1.; Jesurum v. v. Secretary of Health and Human
Services, 48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995). An applicant
is per se disabled if the impairment is equivalent
to a listed impairment and, thus, no further analysis is
necessary. Burnett v. Commissioner, 220 F.3d 112,
119 (3d Cir. 2000). It is a plaintiff's burden to show
that his impairment matches a listing or is equal in severity
to a listed impairment. Williams v. Sullivan, 970
F.2d 1178, 1186 (3d Cir.1992).
the ALJ specifically considered whether Plaintiff's
severe impairments meet or equaled a listed impairment. (ECF
No. 9-2, pp. 17-18). Again, it is Plaintiff's burden to
show that his impairment(s) matches a listing or is equal in
severity to a listed impairment. Williams v.
Sullivan, 970 F.2d 1178, 1186 (3d Cir.1992). At no
point, however, does Plaintiff suggest how he meets any
listing. (ECF No. 12, pp. 2-3). ...