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Lori A. Everson v. Commissioner of Social Security

July 25, 2012

LORI A. EVERSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



APPEARANCES: OF COUNSEL: FOR THE PLAINTIFF: Olinsky Law Group HOWARD D. OLINSKY, ESQ. 300 S. State Street 5th Floor, Suite 520 Syracuse, NY 13202 FOR THE DEFENDANT: HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN TOMASINA DIGRIGOLI United States Attorney Special Assistant U.S. Attorney 100 South Clinton Street Syracuse, NY 13261 Mary Ann Sloan Regional Chief Counsel Social Security Administration Office of General Counsel, Region II 26 Federal Plaza, Room 3904 New York, NY 10278

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

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Lori A. Everson 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 Everson's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On May 23, 2007, Everson filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since May 11, 2002. (See Tr.*fn1 at 134-36.) After her application was denied, (see id. at 108-10), Everson requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on December 2, 2009, (see id. at 37-68). On July 7, 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 1-3, 24-32.)

Everson commenced the present action by filing a Complaint on August 1, 2011, seeking review of the Commissioner's determination. (See Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (See Dkt. Nos. 10, 12.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 14, 18.)

III. Contentions

Everson contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by the application of improper legal standards and is not supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No.14 at 11-25.) Specifically, Everson claims that the ALJ: (1) did not apply the proper standards for evaluating her Residual Functional Capacity (RFC); (2) failed to apply the "[p]sychiatric [r]review [t]echnique" (PRT) in determining her mental functional limitations; (3) improperly assessed her credibility; and (4) erred in relying on a vocational expert's testimony which was based upon an incomplete hypothetical question. (Id.) The Commissioner counters that the ALJ used the appropriate legal standards and substantial evidence supports his decision.(See Dkt. No. 18 at 11-22.)

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 14 at 2-9; Dkt. No. 18 at 2-7.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. ยง 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. ...


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