United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge
Doris Coren (“Coren” or “plaintiff”)
seeks judicial review of the denial of her application for
disability benefits by defendant, Carolyn W. Colvin
(“the Commissioner”), in her official capacity as
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”). Pending before the Court are 1)
plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings to
reverse the Commissioner's decision and 2)
defendant's motion for an order affirming her decision.
For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion to
reverse the Commissioner will be denied and the
Commissioner's motion to affirm will be allowed.
Employment History and Alleged Disability
Coren was born on July 7, 1965. She has a tenth or eleventh
grade education, has three adult children and is unmarried.
She has been unemployed for 15 years and her main source of
income is government assistance. Coren filed an application
for supplemental security income (“SSI”) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381
et seq., in April, 2012, alleging that she is
disabled because of peripheral neuropathy, lower back pain,
alcohol abuse disorder, hypertension, obesity, major
depressive disorder, intellectual disorder and anxiety
initial application for disability benefits was denied in
July, 2012, and, upon reconsideration, was denied again in
November, 2012. She filed a request for a hearing and review
of the SSA's decision in December, 2012. That hearing was
held in November, 2013, before Administrative Law Judge Henry
Hogan (“the ALJ”). In January, 2014, the ALJ
found Coren to be not disabled.
denying Coren disability benefits, the ALJ applied the
five-step test provided in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a) and,
with respect to the fifth step, found that Coren was not
entitled to disability benefits. The ALJ relied upon the
testimony before him during the disability hearing as well as
several exhibits entered into the record which contain
medical reports from doctors and health professionals.
deemed that Coren was not engaged in substantial gainful
activity but was severely impaired as a result of her
peripheral neuropathy, lower back pain, alcohol abuse
disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder and
unspecified learning disorder. He then found, at step three
of the analysis, that her impairments did not meet or equal
the severity of those enumerated in Appendix 1 of 20 C.F.R.
§ 404 Subpart P (“§ 404 Impairments”).
four, the ALJ concluded that Coren had a residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) of “light work” with
additional restrictions of 1) occasionally climbing stairs or
ramps, 2) occasionally stooping, kneeling, crouching,
crawling and 3) occasionally using her right arm for
“fine manipulation” and 4) performing only one to
two-step tasks. The ALJ also noted that she did not have any
past work experience to which she could adjust.
to determine if there were jobs in the general economy that
Coren could hold, the ALJ relied upon the testimony of
vocational expert Dr. Robert Laskey (“Dr.
Laskey”). Dr. Lasky identified three occupations
suitable for her: a garment sorter (2, 400 jobs in
Massachusetts), a laundry worker (9, 000 jobs in
Massachusetts) and a shipping and receiving weigher (360 jobs
in Massachusetts). Citing Dr. Lasky's testimony, the ALJ
concluded that Coren was not disabled because there were
several kinds of jobs in the economy that she could perform.
timely appealed the ALJ's decision but it was upheld in
February, 2015, by the Appeals Council. She then filed her
complaint in this Court in September, 2015, alleging that the
ALJ failed to consider pertinent evidence and did not perform
the required analyses.
The Parties' Motions