United States District Court, D. New Jersey
JOAN M. NIELSEN, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Frederick Michael Friedman, Esq. 821 Terwood Road P.O. Box
467 Drexel Hill, PA 19026 Attorney for Plaintiff
Heather Anne Benderson Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Social
Security Administration Office of the General Counsel 300
Spring Garden Street Philadelphia, PA 19101 Attorney for
Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
B. SIMANDLE U.S. District Judge.
matter comes before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) for review of the final decision of the Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration (hereinafter “the
Commissioner”) denying the application of Plaintiff
Joan M. Nielsen (hereinafter “Plaintiff”) for
disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401, et seq., and for
Supplemental Security Income under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq.
Plaintiff, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, depression,
tachycardia, headaches, high blood pressure, kidney stones,
osteopenia, degenerative disc and joint disease of the lumbar
and cervical spine, fibromyalgia, melanoma, and carpal tunnel
syndrome was denied benefits for the period beginning on July
7, 2010, the alleged onset date of disability, to December
10, 2015, the date on which Administrative Law Judge Michael
A. Rodriguez (hereinafter “ALJ Rodriguez” or
“the ALJ”) issued a thorough written decision.
pending appeal, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's decision
must be reversed and remanded on numerous grounds, including
that the ALJ erred by: misstating or mischaracterizing the
evidence; failing to give proper consideration to the
opinions of treating physicians and giving too much weight to
the opinion of the consultative examiner; and failing to give
proper weight to Plaintiff's subjective complaints of
pain and limitations. Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(hereinafter “Defendant”) opposes Plaintiff's
appeal. (See Def.'s Opp'n [Docket Item 17].)
For the reasons stated below, the Court will affirm the
filed her applications for Social Security disability
benefits and supplementary security income on November 28,
2014, alleging an onset date of July 7, 2010. (Administrative
Record (hereinafter “R.”) [Docket Item 5], 29.)
Plaintiff's claim was denied by the Social Security
Administration on May 29, 2013. (Id.) Her claim was
again denied upon reconsideration on October 3, 2013.
(Id.) Plaintiff next testified before ALJ Rodriguez
by way of a video hearing on October 8, 2015. (Id.)
ALJ Rodriguez issued his opinion on December 10, 2015,
denying Plaintiff benefits. (Id. at 29, 37-38.) On
April 21, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review. (Id. at 1-3.) This appeal timely
Medical History & ALJ Decision
has a history of neck and back pain stretching at least as
far back as a motor vehicle accident in 2005. (Id.
at 31.) Beginning in 2010, medical imaging revealed
degeneration in her lumbar spine and her right wrist, as well
as bulging and herniation in certain spinal discs.
(Id. 31-32.) Plaintiff has a history of kidney
stones, sometimes resulting in hospitalizations.
(Id. at 32.) Plaintiff has also been diagnosed with
rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia,
tachycardia, lower back pain, anxiety, and melanoma.
(Id.) Plaintiff has been diagnosed with depressive
disorder and anxiety disorder. (Id.) Plaintiff has
further undergone surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.
written decision dated December 10, 2015, ALJ Rodriguez
determined that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning
of the Social Security Act at any time from July 7, 2010, the
alleged disability onset date, through December 10, 2015, the
date of the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 29, 37-38.)
the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ
determined at step one that Plaintiff had not engaged in any
substantial gainful activity since July 7, 2010, the alleged
onset date of disability. (Id. at 31.)
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had severe impairments due
to rheumatoid arthritis, depression, tachycardia, headaches,
high blood pressure, kidney stones, osteopenia, degenerative
disc and joint disease of the lumbar and cervical spine, and
fibromyalgia. (Id. at 31-32.) Notably, the ALJ