United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton United States District Judge
Bruno (“Bruno” or “petitioner”) filed
this action appealing the denial of his application for
disability benefits against Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“the Commissioner” or “respondent”).
He claims he was improperly denied Disability Insurance
Benefits because the decision of the presiding Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) was erroneous and not supported
by substantial evidence.
before the Court are petitioner's motion for judgment on
the pleadings to reverse the Commissioner's decision,
petitioner's renewed motion for judgment on the pleadings
to reverse the Commissioner's decision and
respondent's motion for an order affirming her decision.
For the reasons that follow, petitioner's motions to
reverse the Commissioner's decision will be denied and
the Commissioner's motion to affirm will be allowed.
Employment History and Alleged Disability
was 50 years old on his alleged “onset” date of
June 1, 2008. He alleges disability due to blindness in his
right eye, osteoarthritis in his left hip, a dislocated
shoulder and a partially herniated disc in his lumbar spine.
Bruno has employment experience as an equipment salesperson,
inside salesperson and telephone solicitor. He was laid off
from work in May, 2008.
has been treated for complex retinal detachment since 2005,
which has led to the permanent loss of vision in his right
eye. In January, 2011, Michael B. Raizman, M.D. noted that
Bruno's left eye was healthy but that he needed to wear
glasses. Bruno has testified that the acuity and depth
perception in his left eye are gone and that he has floaters
in his left eye that appear to be an impending posterior
vitreous detachment. He was also diagnosed with cataracts in
his left eye.
in 2009, Bruno visited Lawrence M. Specht, M.D. with
complaints of left anterior hip pain with activities and some
radiculopathy to this left foot. X-rays of his left hip
revealed degenerative disc disease bilaterally in the hip
joints. Bruno continued to complain of hip pain during doctor
visits in 2011 and 2012, but stated that he did not want to
pursue total hip arthroplasty. In March, 2014, an x-ray of
Bruno's left hip showed extensive degenerative changes in
the left femoral head and slight degenerative changes in the
right femoral head.
2011, Bruno suffered a left AC shoulder joint separation. A
few months later on examination, he had near-full active
range of motion of that shoulder.
asserts that because of his physical health problems as of
June 1, 2008, he could no longer work and his disability
extended to December 31, 2013, the date last insured.
19, 2010, Bruno filed an application for Disability Insurance
Benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”) in which he alleges that he is
disabled because of the ailments described above. On March 4,
2011, the Commissioner denied his claim and the following
June his claim was denied again after reconsideration.
filed a request for a hearing on April 18, 2012. A hearing
was held before ALJ Paul M. Murphy. Bruno was represented by
counsel. The ALJ found that Bruno was not disabled as defined
by 42 U.S.C. § 1381 of the Act as of his date last
insured. Bruno filed a timely request for review with the
Appeals Council. He claimed that the ALJ's decision was
flawed because it disregarded the left shoulder impairment,
was inadequate regarding the left hip surgery and was unclear
about whether Bruno's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) would allow him to return to past
relevant work using the computer “constantly”.
13, 2013, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ
for a new hearing and decision. In its remand order, the
Appeals Council directed the ALJ to consider further
Bruno's alleged left shoulder impairment given new and
material evidence, as well as to clarify the testimony of the
vocational expert (“VE”) regarding Bruno's
ability to return to past relevant work as generally
performed given his RFC. A supplemental hearing was held on
October 15, 2014, by ALJ William Ramsey at which an impartial
VE and Bruno, represented by counsel, both appeared and
testified. On November 7, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision
finding that Bruno was not disabled as defined by 42 U.S.C.
§ 1381 of the Act.
obtain benefits under § 1602 of the Act, an individual
must demonstrate that he 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 ...