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Frankie C. James v. Michael J. Astrue

January 6, 2011

FRANKIE C. JAMES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary L. Sharpe District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Frankie C. James challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of supplemental security income (SSI) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (Dkt. No. 1.) In a Report and Recommendation (R&R) filed May 7, 2010, Magistrate Judge Victor E. Bianchini recommended that the decision of the Commissioner be reversed, and that the case be remanded for further administrative proceedings pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).*fn1 (Dkt. No. 15.) Pending are the parties' objections to the R&R. (Dkt. Nos. 16, 17.) Upon careful consideration of the arguments, the relevant parts of the record, and the applicable law, the court adopts the R&R in its entirety.

II. Background

On August 23, 2005, James filed applications for SSI under the Social Security Act, alleging disability since January 15, 1990. (R&R at 2, Dkt. No. 15.) After her application was denied, James requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on February 5, 2008. (Id.) Due to technical difficulties, that hearing was not recorded.

(Id.) As a result, a second hearing was held on April 15, 2008. (Id.) On April 24, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying the requested benefits, which became the Commissioner's final decision upon the Social Security Administration Appeals Council's denial of review. (Id.)

James commenced the present action by filing a complaint on April 10, 2009, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's determination. (Dkt. No. 1.) After receiving the parties' briefs, Judge Bianchini issued an R&R recommending that the ALJ's decision be reversed and that the case be remanded for further proceedings. (See generally R&R, Dkt. No. 15.) In response, both parties filed objections to the R&R. (Dkt. Nos. 16, 17.)

III. Standards of Review

A. Report and Recommendation

By statute and rule, district courts are authorized to refer social security petitions to magistrate judges for proposed findings and recommendations regarding disposition. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), (B); N.D.N.Y. L.R. 40.1, 72.3(d); Gen. Order No. 18. Before entering final judgment, this court routinely reviews all report and recommendation orders in cases it has referred to a magistrate judge. If a party has objected to specific elements of the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations, this court reviews those findings and recommendations de novo. See Almonte v. N.Y. State Div. of Parole,No. 04-cv-484, 2006 WL 149049, at *6-7 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2006). In those cases where no party has filed an objection, or only a vague or general objection has been filed, this court reviews the findings and recommendations of a magistrate judge for clear error. See id.

B. Commissioner's Decision

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is well established and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard and the five-step process used by the Commissioner in evaluating whether a claimant is disabled under the Act, the court refers the parties to its previous opinion in Christiana v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 1:05-CV-932, 2008 WL 759076, at *1-2 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2008).

IV. Objections

A. Severity of ...


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