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James M. Small v. Michael J. Astrue

November 28, 2012

JAMES M. SMALL,
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

PlaintiffJames M. Small 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 at 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Small's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed and Small's Complaint is dismissed.

II. Background

On September 14, 2009, Small filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("Act"), alleging disability beginning April 1, 2007.*fn1 (See Tr.*fn2 at 12, 101-08.) After his applications were denied, Small requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on November 30, 2010. (See id. at 29-53, 64.) On January 28, 2011, 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 1-3, 9-26.)

Small commenced the present action by filing a Complaint on August 5, 2011, seeking review of the Commissioner's determination. (See Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and certified copy of the administrative transcript. (See Dkt. Nos. 10, 11.) Both parties, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 15, 18.)

III. Contentions

Small contends that the Commissioner's decision was the product of legal error and is unsupported by substantial evidence. (See generally Dkt. No. 15.) Specifically, Small claims that the ALJ: (1) erred at step two in failing to find his "adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depressed mood and panic disorder severe"; (2) "failed to account for any functional limitations arising from [his] mental impairment when determining RFC"; (3) "erred in failing to give controlling weight to the opinions of treating physician Dr. [Mark] Corey"; (4) erroneously discounted his credibility; and (5) improperly relied on the Medical-Vocational Guidelines at step five. (Id. at 10-23.) The Commissioner counters that the ALJ employed the proper legal standards and that her decision is supported by substantial evidence. (See generally Dkt. No. 18.)

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 15 at 2-9; Dkt. No. 18 at 2.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) 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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