United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
Smith Young, Esq. Robert J. Rabuck, Esq. Terry L. Ollila,
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Barbadoro United States District Judge
Moore challenges the Social Security Administration's
decision to deny her claim for supplemental security income
(SSI) benefits. She argues, among other things, that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) improperly
determined that she had the lifting capacity required for
light work. The Acting Commissioner moves for an order
affirming the ALJ's decision.
accordance with Local Rule 9.1, the parties have submitted a
joint statement of stipulated facts (Doc. No. 12). Because
that joint statement is part of the court's record, I do
not recount it here. I discuss facts relevant to the
disposition of this matter as necessary below.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
authorized to review the pleadings submitted by the parties
and the administrative record and enter a judgment affirming,
modifying, or reversing the “final decision” of
the Commissioner. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). That
review is limited, however, “to determining whether the
ALJ used the proper legal standards and found facts [based]
upon the proper quantum of evidence.” Ward v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 211 F.3d 652, 655 (1st Cir.
2000). I defer to the ALJ's findings of fact, so long as
those findings are supported by substantial evidence.
Id. Substantial evidence exists “if a
reasonable mind, reviewing the evidence in the record as a
whole, could accept it as adequate to support his
conclusion.” Irlanda Ortiz v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 955 F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991)
(per curiam) (quoting Rodriguez v. Sec'y of Health
& Human Servs., 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981)).
substantial evidence standard is met, the ALJ's factual
findings are conclusive, even where the record
“arguably could support a different conclusion.”
Id. at 770. Findings are not conclusive, however, if
the ALJ derived his findings by “ignoring evidence,
misapplying the law, or judging matters entrusted to
experts.” Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35
(1st Cir. 1999) (per curiam). The ALJ is responsible for
determining issues of credibility and for drawing inferences
from evidence in the record. Irlanda Ortiz, 955 F.2d
at 769. It is the role of the ALJ, not the court, to resolve
conflicts in the evidence. Id. But the ALJ's
decision must enable the reviewing court to determine whether
the ALJ engaged with conflicts, rather than failing to
consider them. See Dube v. Astrue, 781 F.Supp.2d 27,
35 (D.N.H. 2011); Lord v. Apfel, 114 F.Supp.2d 3,
13-14 (D.N.H. 2000); see also Garfield v. Schweiker,
732 F.2d 605, 610 (7th Cir. 1984).
is a fifty-five-year-old woman with a scattered work history
who alleges disability as of November 15, 2007. See
Tr. at 322; Doc. No. 12 at 1 n.1. She alleges disabling
impairments of fibromyalgia, lupus, lobectomy, degenerative
joint disease, vertigo, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, vocal cord dysfunction, panic disorder, anxiety
disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She alleges
that these impairments impose both exertional and
non-exertional limitations on her ability to work. The ALJ
found that Moore was not disabled because she could perform
the light work job of price marker.
appeal, Moore argues that the ALJ improperly determined that
she had the lifting capacity required for light work even
though no medical opinion supported that determination. In
response, the Acting Commissioner argues that Moore waived
her challenge by not raising it before the ALJ and, in the
alternative, the ALJ reasonably interpreted the medical
opinion evidence to arrive at his lifting-capacity
by explaining why Moore has not waived her challenge. Turning
to the merits, I conclude that the ALJ did not support his
determination with substantial evidence because he misstated
a critical finding and failed to adequately address conflicts
in the evidence.
Acting Commissioner argues that Moore waived her challenge to
the lifting determination because she “did not raise it
before the ALJ.” See Doc. No. 11-1 at 5.
Because Moore's lifting restriction was presented to the
ALJ, a subsequent remand hearing was limited to a ...