United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. SHERIDAN, U.S.D. J.
matter is before the Court on a motion for reconsideration of
the Court's June 23, 2016 decision affirming the
ALJ's decision denying Plaintiffs application for
Disability Insurance Benefits.
initial brief in support of the complaint, Plaintiffs sole
argument was that the ALJ erred at step four by finding that
Plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as a real
estate agent (Pl.'s Br. at 3-7). Past relevant work is
work that a claimant has done within the past 15 years, that
was substantial gainful activity, and that lasted long enough
for the claimant to learn it. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1560(b)(1), 416.960(b)(1). If a claimant can still do his
past work, given his severe impairments and his Residual
Functional Capacity (RFC), he is deemed not disabled. 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), (f), 404.1560(b)(3). In his
original argument, Plaintiff did not argue that Plaintiffs
functional (reaching) limitation was a "non-exertional
limitation" requiring the ALJ to employ a vocational
expert in determining Plaintiffs disability. However, in his
motion for reconsideration, Plaintiff argues that the Court
The essence of the Court's Opinion in this case is that
Plaintiffs uncontested functional limitation precluding
anything more than occasional overhead reaching was not a
non-exertional limitation (Opinion at 9). The reasoning
continues that because this is so, there was no legal error
in the ALJ failing to consult a vocational expert (VE) here
(Opinion at 9). With great respect, it must be stated
directly that the Court's crucial finding that a reaching
limitation is not a non-exertional functional limitation is
unquestionably erroneous as a matter of law.
for Reconsideration- Standard of Review
for reconsideration are governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) and L.
Civ. R. 7.1(i). "The "extraordinary remedy" of
reconsideration is "to be granted sparingly." A.K.
Stamping Co., Inc., v. Instrument Specialties Co., Inc., 106
F.Supp.2d 627, 662 (D.N.J. 2000) (quoting NL Indus.,
Inc., v. Commercial Union Ins. Co., 935 F.Supp. 513, 516
(D.N.J. 1996)). The Rule "does not contemplate a Court
looking to matters which were not originally presented."
Damiano v. Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.,
975 F.Supp. 623, 634 (D.N.J. 1996) (quoting Florham Park
Chevron, Inc., v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 680 F.Supp. 159,
162 (D.N.J. 1988)).
Third Circuit has held that the "purpose of a motion for
reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact
or to present newly discovered evidence." Harsco
Corp. v. Zlotincki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir. 1985),
cert, denied, 476 U.S. 1171 (1986). "Reconsideration
motions, however, may not be used to relitigate old matters,
nor to raise arguments or present evidence that could have
been raised prior to the entry of judgment." NL
Indus., Inc., 935 F.Supp. at 516; See Wright, Miller
& Kane, Fed. Practice and Procedure: Civil 2d §
2810.1. Such motions will only be granted where (1) an
intervening change in the law has occurred, (2) new evidence
not previously available has emerged, or (3) the need to
correct a clear error of law or prevent a manifest injustice
arises. See, North River Ins. Co. v. CIGNA
Reinsurance Co., 52 F.3d 1194, 1218 (3d Cir. 1995).
Because reconsideration of a judgment after its entry is an
extraordinary remedy, requests pursuant to these rules are to
be granted "sparingly," Maldonado v.
Lucca, 636 F.Supp. 621, 630 (D.N.J. 1986); and only when
"dispositive factual matters or controlling decisions of
law" were brought to the Court's attention but not
considered. Pelham v. United States, 661 F.Supp.
1063, 1065 (D.N.J. 1987). See G-69 v. Degnan, 748
F.Supp. 274, 275 (D.N.J. 1990).
or not the Court erred by stating that the reaching
limitation was "non-exertional" does not change the
decision. That is because the ALJ's inquiry stopped at
Step 4 wherein he found that Plaintiff was able to perform
his past relevant work as a real estate agent. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920 (If a decision can be reached
at any step in the sequential evaluation process, further
evaluation is unnecessary).
Plaintiffs burden at step four to demonstrate that he lacked
the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform his past
relevant work. Plummer v. Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 428
(3d Cir. 1999). Here, the substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's finding that Plaintiff could perform his past
also argues that "in fact, because there was no
vocational expert (VE) testimony here at all, without the DOT
(Dictionary of Occupational Titles) there would be no
possible legal basis whatsoever for the ALJ's step 4
determination." If the Plaintiff can perform his past
relevant work, the analysis stops. The ALJ need not proceed
to Step 5. It is at Step 5 where the vocational expert may be
engaged to analyze any non-exertional limitations.
the ALJ also found that Plaintiffs subjective complaints and
his alleged symptoms were not entirely credible based upon
medical findings and other available information. Jenkins
v. Commissioner, 2006 U.S. App. Lexis 21295 (3d Cir.
2006). Generally, the credibility of witnesses is
quintessentially the province of the ALJ. Since
"credibility determinations are the unique province of a
fact finder" in reviewing the record as a whole, I do
not find any substantive reason to reverse the determination.
See generally, Dardovitch v. Haltzman, 190 F.3d 125
(3d Cir. 1999) (internal quotation omitted). Inasmuch as the
Administrative Law Judge had the opportunity to observe
demeanor and determine credibility of witnesses, her findings
are conclusive. See Wier v. Heckler, 734 F.2d 955,
962 (3d Cir. 1984). See also, Social Security Ruling 96-7, 20
C.F.R. 404.1529 and 20 C.F.R. 416.969. .
case, the ALJ's inquiry stopped at Step 4. Even with the
Court's misstatement that the reaching limitation was not
"non-exertional", the ALJ's opinion, finding
that Plaintiff was not disabled at Step 4, is within the
substantial evidence of the record.
that Plaintiffs motion for reconsideration (ECF ...