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David Lawler v. Michael Astrue

January 23, 2012

DAVID LAWLER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL ASTRUE,COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff David Lawler challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and seeks judicial review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) Upon reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering the arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision.

II. Background

On December 28, 2005, Lawler filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act (the Act), alleging disability since January 30, 2002. (Tr.*fn1 at 14.) After his application was denied, Lawler requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on March 14, 2008. (Id.) On September 3, 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. at 6-8, 11-26.)

Lawler commenced the present action by filing a complaint on December 18, 2009, seeking review of the Commissioner's determination. (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (Dkt. Nos. 12, 13.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 16, 19.)

III. Contentions

Lawler contends the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence.*fn2 Specifically, Lawler claims the ALJ: (1) erred in evaluating his intellectual deficiencies; and (2) failed to appropriately determine his Residual Function Capacity ("RFC"). (See Dkt. No. 16 at 1, 5-16.) The Commissioner counters that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision.(See generally Dkt. No. 19.)

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 16 at 1-5; Dkt. No. 19 at 2-7.)

V. Standard 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. Intellectual ...


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