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Regena Marie Taylor v. Michael J. Astrue

April 24, 2012

REGENA MARIE TAYLOR, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Regena Marie Taylor 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 Taylor's arguments, the court reverses and remands the Commissioner's decision.

II. Background

On May 31, 2007, Taylor filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since April 6, 2006. (See Tr.*fn1 at 145-50.) After her application was denied, (see id. at 66-71), Taylor requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (See id. at 72-74.) Two hearings were eventually held; the first, on September 21, 2009, and the second, on April 21, 2010. (See id. at 26-39, 40-62.) On April 30, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying the requested benefits, which became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Social Security Administration Appeals Council's denial of review. (See id. at 1-18, 19-24.)

Taylor commenced the present action by filing a complaint on May 26, 2011 wherein she sought review of the Commissioner's determination. (See generally Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (See Dkt. Nos. 7, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 12, 13.)

III. Contentions

Taylor contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by errors of law and is not supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 12 at 12-24.) Specifically, Taylor claims that the ALJ: (1) improperly evaluated the medical evidence; (2) rendered an inaccurate severity determination; (3) erred in determining her residual functional capacity (RFC); and (4) improperly assessed her credibility. (See id.) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used by the ALJ and his decision is also supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 13 at 6-21.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (See id. at 1-2; Dkt. No. 12 at 1-9.)

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 by which the Commissioner evaluates whether a claimant is disabled under the Act, the court refers the parties to its previous opinion in Christiana v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 1:05-CV-932, 2008 WL 759076, at *1-2 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2008).

VI. Discussion

Among other arguments, Taylor contends that the ALJ committed reversible error at step two by only superficially evaluating the severity of her mental impairments and failing to consider whether her left wrist impairment was ...


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