United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
John F. Boland
Commissioner of Social Security
McCafferty United States District Judge
Boland seeks judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), of the decision of the Acting Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration, denying his application for
disability insurance benefits. Boland moves to reverse the
Acting Commissioner's decision, and the Acting
Commissioner moves to affirm. Separately, the Acting
Commissioner moves to strike Boland's response to her
surreply, and Boland moves for leave to file his response
nunc pro tunc to the Acting Commissioner's surreply. For
the reasons discussed below, Acting Commissioner's motion
to strike is granted, Boland's motion for leave to file
his response is denied, and the decision of the Acting
Commissioner is reversed.
Boland's Response to the Acting Commissioner's
January 25, 2018, Boland filed a reply to the Acting
Commissioner's motion for an order affirming her
decision. See doc. no. 14. On January 30, 2018, the
Acting Commissioner filed a surreply. See doc. no.
16. On February 7, 2018, Boland filed a response to
the Acting Commissioner's surreply. See doc. no.
February 9, 2018, the Acting Commissioner moved to strike
Boland's response to her surreply, arguing that the
court's local rules do not allow a plaintiff to file a
response to a surreply. See doc. no. 20. Boland then
moved for leave to file his response to the surreply, see
doc. no. 21, and filed an objection to the Acting
Commissioner's motion to strike, see doc. no.
22, arguing in both filings that the local rules
permit his response.
the parties filed their motions, the court issued an order in
another social security case involving the same attorneys and
a similar dispute over the local rules. See Palombo v.
Berryhill, No. 17-cv-284-LM, 2018 WL 3118286, at *1
(D.N.H. June 25, 2018). The court does not repeat that
discussion here and refers the parties to that order to the
extent they require clarification of the meaning of Local
Rule 9.1, which governs social security disability cases.
Local Rules do not permit Boland to file a response to the
Acting Commissioner's surreply. Therefore, the
government's motion to strike Boland's response is
granted, and Boland's motion for leave to file his
response is denied.
Standard of Review
reviewing the final decision of the Acting Commissioner in a
social security case, the court “is limited to
determining whether the [Administrative Law Judge] deployed
the proper legal standards and found facts upon the proper
quantum of evidence.” Nguyen v. Chater, 172
F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999); accord Seavey v.
Barnhart, 276 F.3d 1, 9 (1st Cir. 2001). The court
defers to the ALJ's factual findings as long as they are
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g); see also Fischer v. Colvin, 831 F.3d
31, 34 (1st Cir. 2016). “Substantial evidence is more
than a scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Astralis Condo. Ass'n v. Sec'y
Dep't of Housing & Urban Dev., 620 F.3d 62, 66
(1st Cir. 2010).
determining whether a claimant is disabled, the ALJ follows a
five-step sequential analysis. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4). The claimant “has the burden of
production and proof at the first four steps of the
process.” Freeman v. Barnhart, 274 F.3d 606,
608 (1st Cir. 2001). The first three steps are (1)
determining whether the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity; (2) determining whether she has a severe
impairment; and (3) determining whether the impairment meets
or equals a listed impairment. 20 C.F.R. §
fourth step of the sequential analysis, the ALJ assesses the
claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), which is a determination of the most a
person can do in a work setting despite her limitations
caused by impairments, Id. § 404.1545(a)(1),
and her past relevant work, id. §
404.1520(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant can perform her past
relevant work, the ALJ will find that the claimant is not
disabled. See Id. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). If the
claimant cannot perform her past relevant work, the ALJ
proceeds to Step Five, in which the ALJ has the burden of
showing that jobs exist in the economy which the claimant can
do in light of the RFC assessment. See Id. §
detailed statement of the facts can be found in the
parties' Joint Statement of Material Facts (doc. no.
10). The court ...