United States District Court, D. New Jersey
SHANA S. JONES, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
STANLEY R. CHESLER, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court on the appeal by Plaintiff
Shana S. Jones (“Plaintiff”) of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) determining that she was not
disabled under the Social Security Act (the
“Act”). This Court exercises jurisdiction
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and, having considered
the submissions of the parties without oral argument,
pursuant to L. Civ. R. 9.1(b), finds that the
Commissioner's decision will be affirmed.
brief, this appeal arises from Plaintiff's application
for disability insurance and supplemental security income
benefits, alleging disability beginning May 15, 2012. A
hearing was held before ALJ Dennis O'Leary (the
“ALJ”) on December 5, 2016, and the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on February 24, 2017. Plaintiff sought
review of the decision from the Appeals Council. After the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
the ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final
decision, and Plaintiff filed this appeal.
decision of February 24, 2017, the ALJ found that, at step
three, Plaintiff did not meet or equal any of the Listings.
At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity to perform light work, with
certain limitations, including that she is limited to simple
and repetitive work with no public contact. At step four, the
ALJ also found that this residual functional capacity was not
sufficient to allow Plaintiff to perform any of her past
relevant work. At step five, the ALJ determined, based on the
testimony of a vocational expert, that there are other jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy which
the claimant can perform, consistent with her medical
impairments, age, education, past work experience, and
residual functional capacity. The ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff had not been disabled within the meaning of the
outset, the Court notes that Plaintiff's brief on appeal
contains not one citation, or even reference, to the law. As
for the record, Plaintiff's brief does cite specific
points in the ALJ's decision, but the brief has no
citations to specific evidence of record. Plaintiff makes no
reference to the legal standard this Court must apply to this
case: in brief, this Court must affirm the Commissioner*s
decision “if there is substantial evidence to support
the Commissioner's decision.” Plummer v.
Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 427 (3d Cir. 1999). Substantial
evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)
(quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S.
197, 229 (1938)). Substantial evidence “is more than a
mere scintilla of evidence but may be less than a
preponderance.” McCrea v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 370 F.3d 357, 360 (3d Cir. 2004). The reviewing
court must consider the totality of the evidence and then
determine whether there is substantial evidence to support
the Commissioner*s decision. See Taybron v. Harris,
667 F.2d 412, 413 (3d Cir. 1981).
reviewing court is not “empowered to weigh the evidence
or substitute its conclusions for those of the
fact-finder.” Williams v. Sullivan, 970 F.2d
1178, 1182 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied sub nom. Williams
v. Shalala, 507 U.S. 924 (1993) (citing Early v.
Heckler, 743 F.2d 1002, 1007 (3d Cir. 1984)). If the
ALJ's findings of fact are supported by substantial
evidence, this Court is bound by those findings, “even
if [it] would have decided the factual inquiry
differently.” Fargnoli v. Massanari, 247 F.3d
34, 35 (3d Cir. 2001); see also Hartranft v. Apfel,
181 F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir. 1999).
arguments do not reference the substantial evidence standard.
Instead, Plaintiff's arguments, at best, point to small
inconsistencies in the ALJ's decision. At no point does
Plaintiff reference the substantial evidence standard to
argue that an inconsistency constitutes reversible error.
first points out that the ALJ commented that Plaintiff is not
totally precluded from all work activity, but does not link
this to any argument for reversal under any legal standard.
next shows confusion about the significance of a step two
finding of a severe impairment. A finding of severe
impairments at step two is independent of determinations made
at later steps in the five-step evaluation process.
next raises Plaintiff's difficulties with clear speech
and opines that this interferes with training for a new job.
Plaintiff does not, however, point to any medical evidence
that shows that speech difficulties limit Plaintiff's
ability to work.
Plaintiff opines that Plaintiff is unable to work.
has made no showing that the Commissioner erred and that she
was harmed by the error. Nor has Plaintiff made any showing
that the Commissioner's decision is not supported by
substantial evidence. Plaintiff has failed to persuade this
Court that the ALJ erred in his decision, or that she was
harmed by any errors. This Court ...