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Daryl R. Booker v. Michael J. Astrue

August 23, 2011

DARYL R. BOOKER, 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 Daryl Booker challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering the arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded.

II. Background

On May 16, 2003, Booker applied for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act, alleging disability beginning on May 28, 2002, due to depression, hepatitis C, a learning disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, and various musculoskeletal impairments. (Tr.*fn1 at 98-100, 161-63.) Booker's applications were initially denied by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) following a hearing held on July 21, 2004, but his case was remanded by the Social Security Administration Appeals Council on May 25, 2005. (Tr. at 102-106, 113-126, 140-143.) After a supplemental hearing was held on October 27, 2005, (Tr. at 465-519), the ALJ issued a second decision denying the requested benefits, which became the commissioner's final decision upon the Appeals Council's denial of further review. (Tr. at 5-7, 14-23.)

Booker then commenced the present action by filing a complaint on June 19, 2007. (Dkt. No. 1.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 13, 16.)

III. Contentions

Booker contends that the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence or the appropriate legal standards. Specifically, Booker claims that the ALJ: (1) erred in finding at step two that Booker's left foot condition, diabetes, and learning disorder were not severe impairments; (2) erred in finding at step three that Booker's depressive disorder did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment; and (3) improperly assessed Booker's residual functional capacity (RFC). (See Pl. Br. at 13-20, Dkt. No. 13.) The Commissioner counters that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision.

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. (See Pl. Br. at 5-12, Dkt. No. 13; Def. Br. at 1, Dkt. No. 16.)

V. Standards of Review

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).

VI. Discussion

A. Severity of ...


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