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Natalie Sturick v. Michael J. Astrue

October 12, 2012

NATALIE STURICK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Natalie Sturick challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of her claim for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB),*fn1 seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Sturick's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On November 29, 2007, Sturick, who suffers from, among other things, a severe impairment of her left knee, filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 27, 2005. (See Tr.*fn2 at 8, 72, 150-59.) After her application was denied, (see id. at 75-78), Sturick requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on October 8, 2009, (see id. at 24-71). On January 20, 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 1-4, 5-23.)

Sturick commenced the present action by filing her Complaint on June 13, 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. 14, 16.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 18, 20.)

III. Contentions

Sturick contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 18 at 8-25.) Specifically, Sturick claims that the: (1) ALJ erred by failing to find that listings 1.02(A) and 1.03 were met; (2) residual functional capacity (RFC) determination is the product of legal error; (3) ALJ improperly evaluated her credibility; and (4) step five determination is infirm because the hypothetical posed to the vocational expert (VE) was incomplete and based upon the flawed RFC analysis. (See id.) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used by the ALJ and her decision is supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 20 at 16-25.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 18 at 1-6; Dkt. No. 20 at 1-14.)

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. Listings 1.02(A) ...


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