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MARKS v. APFEL

July 6, 1998

IDA R. MARKS, Plaintiff,
v.
KENNETH S. APFEL,1 COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HURD

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

 This matter is brought pursuant to §§ 205(g) & 1631(b)(3) of the Social Security Act ("Act"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) & 1383(c)(3), to review a final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying the plaintiff's claim of Social Security Disability Insurance. The parties have filed their briefs, including the Administrative Record on Appeal, and the matter has been submitted to this court without oral argument.

 I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

 On May 24, 1994, the plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits, alleging that as a result of pain in her low back, right leg and foot, and right shoulder, she was disabled and incapable of working as of January 31, 1994. Her initial application was denied on June 22, 1994, and again following a request for reconsideration. As a result, on January 11, 1995, the plaintiff obtained a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). On January 24, 1996, following plaintiff's hearing, ALJ Franklin T. Russell determined that the plaintiff was capable of performing sedentary work and therefore not entitled to disability insurance benefits.

 On August 21, 1996, the ALJ's decision denying plaintiff benefits became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council rejected plaintiff's request for review of the January 24, 1996 hearing decision. Plaintiff now brings this appeal. This court must determine if the findings of the Commissioner of Social Security are supported by substantial evidence.

 II. FACTS

 This Court adopts the facts set forth in the plaintiff's brief with any exceptions as noted.

 III. CONTENTIONS

 Plaintiff contends that the ALJ's decision was erroneous because the plaintiff was entitled to a finding of disability based on her back condition and attending symptoms of disabling pain.

 IV. DISCUSSION

 1. Standard of Review

 A court's review of the Commissioner's final decision is limited to determining whether there is substantial evidence in the record to support such decision. Rivera v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 964, 967 (2d Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Rivera, 923 F.2d at 967 (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842, 91 S. Ct. 1420 (1971)). "To determine on appeal whether an ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence, a reviewing court considers the whole record, examining the evidence from both sides, because an analysis of the substantiality of the evidence must also include that which detracts from it's weight." Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d 255, 258 (2d Cir. 1988)(citing Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 488, 95 L. Ed. 456, 71 S. Ct. 456 (1951), Mongeur v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1038 (2d Cir. 1983)). However, a reviewing court must not substitute its interpretation of the administrative record so long as there exists substantial support for the decision in the record. Williams, 859 F.2d at 258.

 Additionally, the scope of review involves determining both whether the Commissioner has applied the correct legal standard and whether the determination is supported by substantial evidence. Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d 983, 985 (2d Cir. 1987). Thus, where there is a reasonable basis for doubting whether the Commissioner applied the appropriate legal standard, even if the ultimate decision may be arguably ...


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