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Dennis J. Plant v. Commissioner of Social Security

July 2, 2012

DENNIS J. PLANT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
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 Dennis J. Plant challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Plant's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On April 24, 2008, Plant filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since March 21, 2008. (See Tr.*fn1 at 68, 102-09.) After his application was denied, (see id. at 68), Plant requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on January 12, 2010. (See id. at 47-67, 69-70.) On January 26, 2010, the ALJ issued an unfavorable 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 1-6, 21-26, 31-46.)

Plant commenced the present action by filing his Complaint on October 5, 2011 wherein he 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. 5, 6.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 9, 10.)

III. Contentions

Plant contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 9 at 12-15.) Specifically, Plant claims that the ALJ "erred in finding that none of [his] medically-determinable impairments were 'severe impairments' within the meaning of the Social Security Act." (Id. at 12-14.) 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. 10 at 6-13 .)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 9 at 5-11; Dkt. No. 10 at 2-5.)

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 decision 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

In his only argument, which is devoid of any citation to legal authority or the administrative record, Plant asserts that the ALJ committed reversible error at step two of the disability analysis by finding that he does not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments. (See Dkt. No. 9 at 12-14.) In support of his assertion, Plant contends that, in addition to his own credible testimony, the medical evidence in the record demonstrates that his "multiple physical impairments . . . significantly limit his ability to perform the physical functions of basic work." (Id. at 12, 14.) Moreover, while Plant concedes that the standards applicable to New York State disability retirement benefits differ from those of Social Security disability, he also contends that New York's finding of disability amounts to a determination that his "physical impairments . ...


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