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Linda Brogan-Dawley v. Michael J. Astrue

May 6, 2011

LINDA BROGAN-DAWLEY, 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 Linda Brogan-Dawley challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of disability insurance benefits (DIB), seeking review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) In a Report-Recommendation (R&R) filed July 13, 2010, Magistrate Judge George H. Lowe recommended that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed and Brogan-Dawley's complaint be dismissed.*fn1 (Dkt. No. 16.) Pending are Brogan-Dawley's objections to the R&R. (Dkt. No. 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*fn2

On July 27, 2005, Linda Brogan-Dawley filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act (SSA). (See Def. Br. at 1, Dkt. No. 12.) After her application was denied, Brogan-Dawley requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on September 11, 2007.

(See R&R at 1, Dkt. No. 16.) On September 25, 2007, the ALJ issued a decision denying the requested benefits after determining that BroganDawley was not disabled from the alleged onset date of December 1, 2002, through the date last insured of June 30, 2004. (See id. at 1-2.) Upon appeal of the ALJ's decision, the Appeals Council granted BroganDawley's request for review and issued a "corrective unfavorable decision" on February 18, 2009, finding that she was not disabled (See id. at 2.)

Brogan-Dawley commenced the present action by filing a complaint on April 16, 2009, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's determination. (See Dkt. No. 1.) After receiving the parties' briefs, Judge Lowe issued an R&R recommending dismissal of Brogan-Dawley's complaint. (See generally R&R, Dkt. No. 16.) In response, Brogan-Dawley filed objections to the R&R. (See Dkt. No. 17.)

III. Standard of Review

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); General 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.

IV. Objections

Brogan-Dawley raises three specific objections to the R&R, which the court will review de novo. The remainder of the R&R will be reviewed for clear error.

A. Severe Back Impairment, Knee Arthritis, Diabetes, and Obesity

First, Brogan-Dawley objects to Judge Lowe's conclusion that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that her back impairment, knee arthritis, diabetes, and obesity were not severe. (See Pl. ...


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