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MELCHIOR v. APFEL

July 24, 1998

JOANNE MELCHIOR, 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 Supplemental Security Income. 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 September 19, 1994, the plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits pursuant to Title XVI of the Act. The application was denied initially and again on reconsideration. Subsequently, the plaintiff made a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). As a result, ALJ Alfred R. Tyminski conducted a hearing in Syracuse, New York on July 19, 1995. Following the hearing, on September 12, 1995, the ALJ concluded that the plaintiff was not disabled, and therefore not entitled to Supplemental Security Income benefits.

 On February 22, 1997, the Appeals Council rejected plaintiffs request for review of the September 12, 1995 hearing decision. Consequently, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. 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 for the following reasons:

 
1. The ALJ erred in failing to find that the plaintiffs asthma met the criteria of a listed impairment in appendix 1, subpart p, regulations No. 4.
 
2. The ALJ's determination that the plaintiff is not disabled is not supported by substantial evidence.

 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 its 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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