United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Richard J. Gobis, Jr., Claimant
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant Opinion No. 2016 DNH 137
J. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), claimant,
Richard Gobis, Jr., moves to reverse or vacate the Acting
Commissioner’s decision denying his applications for
Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, and Supplemental Security Income Benefits under
Title XVI. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 423,
1381-1383c (collectively, the “Act”). The Acting
Commissioner objects and moves for an order affirming her
reasons discussed below, claimant’s motion is denied,
and the Acting Commissioner’s motion is granted.
spring of 2012, claimant filed applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”), alleging that he was
disabled and had been unable to work since March 11, 2012.
Claimant was 43 years old at the time. Those applications
were denied and claimant requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ").
October of 2013, claimant, his wife, his attorney, and an
impartial vocational expert appeared before an ALJ, who
considered claimant’s applications de novo. The
following month, the ALJ issued his written decision,
concluding that claimant was not disabled, as that term is
defined in the Act, at any time prior to the date of his
decision. Claimant then sought review by the Appeals Council,
which denied his request. Accordingly, the ALJ’s denial
of claimant’s applications for benefits became the
final decision of the Commissioner, subject to judicial
review. Subsequently, claimant filed a timely action in this
court, asserting that the ALJ’s decision is not
supported by substantial evidence.
then filed a “Motion for Order Reversing Decision of
the Commissioner” (document no. 11). In response, the
Acting Commissioner filed a “Motion for Order Affirming
the Decision of the Commissioner” (document no. 14).
Those motions are pending.
to this court’s Local Rule 9.1, the parties have
submitted a joint statement of stipulated facts which,
because it is part of the court’s record (document no.
15), need not be recounted in this opinion. Those facts
relevant to the disposition of this matter are discussed as
“Substantial Evidence” and Deferential
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the court is empowered “to
enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a
judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without
remanding the cause for a rehearing.” Factual findings
and credibility determinations made by the Commissioner are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. See
42 U.S.C. Â§' 405(g), 1383(c)(3). See also Irlanda
Ortiz v. Secretary of Health & Human Services, 955
F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229
(1938). Importantly, it is something less than a
preponderance of the evidence, so the possibility of drawing
two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not
prevent an administrative agency’s finding from being
supported by substantial evidence. Consolo v. Federal
Maritime Comm’n., 383 U.S. 607, 620 (1966).
See also Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
The Parties’ Respective Burdens.
individual seeking SSI and/or DIB benefits is disabled under
the Act if he or she is unable “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). See
also 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3). The Act places the
initial burden on the claimant, who must establish the
existence of a disabling impairment. See Bowen v.
Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146-47 (1987); Santiago v.
Secretary of Health & Human Services, 944 F.2d 1, 5
(1st Cir. 1991). To satisfy that burden, the claimant must
prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his
impairment prevents him from performing his former type of
work. See Gray v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 369, 371 (1st
Cir. 1985); Paone v. Schweiker, 530 F.Supp. 808,
810-11 (D. Mass. 1982). If the claimant demonstrates an
inability to perform his previous work, the burden shifts to
the Commissioner to show ...