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Rose Teuscher v. Michael J. Astrue

July 26, 2012

ROSE TEUSCHER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. 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 Rose Teuscher 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 the arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses Teuscher's complaint.

II. Background

On December 3, 2008, Teuscher filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("Act"), alleging disability since June 1, 2000. (See Tr.*fn1 at 13.) After her application was denied, Teuscher requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on July 1, 2010. (See id.) On November 5, 2010, 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. (See id. at 1-5, 15-23.)

Teuscher commenced the present action by filing a Complaint on July 29, 2011, seeking review of the Commissioner's determination. (See Compl. ¶ 3.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (See Dkt. Nos. 7, 8.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 12, 13.)

III. Contentions

Teuscher contends that the Commissioner's decision was the product of the application of improper legal standards and is unsupported by substantial evidence. (See generally Dkt. No. 12.) Specifically, Teuscher claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) failing to find that her mental impairments*fn2 constituted severe impairments; (2) discrediting her testimony and statements provided by her sisters regarding her complaints of pain and functional limitations; and (3) failing to accord appropriate weight to the opinion of the her treating physician. (See id. at 1, 7-13.) The Commissioner counters that the ALJ's decision applied the proper legal standards and is supported by substantial evidence. (See generally Dkt. No. 13.)

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 12 at 3; Dkt. No.13 at 2.)

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 of 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 ...


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