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Thomas Sheffield v. Michael Astrue

November 28, 2012

THOMAS SHEFFIELD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL 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 Thomas Sheffield challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's determination that he was no longer entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI),*fn1 seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Sheffield's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded.

II. Background

Sheffield, born January 8, 1990, filed an application for SSI childhood disability under the Social Security Act ("the Act") in December 1996, and was subsequently found disabled with an onset date of November 25, 1997. (See Tr.*fn2 at 37, 97-99.) On March 2, 2009, Sheffield was notified that he was no longer eligible for SSI due to a redetermination based upon the adult SSI standard. (Id. at 56-59.) Sheffield sought reconsideration and a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) was held on April 29, 2010. (Id. at 62-67, 560-578.) On June 17, 2010, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision and found that Sheffield's disability ended on March 31, 2009. (Id. at 23-34.) That decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Sheffield's request for review. (Id. at 12-14.).

Sheffield commenced the present action by filing his Complaint on October 3, 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. 8, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 12, 14.)

III. Contentions

Sheffield contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by errors of law and is not supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 12 at 5-12.) Specifically, Sheffield claims that the ALJ: (1) erred in finding that he had no limitations in his abilities to deal with others and stress; and (2) erred in failing to obtain testimony from a vocational expert (VE). (See id.) 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. 14 at 11-19.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 12 at 2-5; Dkt. No. 14 at 2-11.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)*fn3 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 opinion in Christiana v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 1:05-CV-932, 2008 WL 759076, at *1-3 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2008).

VI. Discussion

The ALJ found that, as of March 31, 2009, Sheffield "maintain[ed] the abilities (on a sustained basis) to understand, carry out, and remember simple instructions; respond appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and usual work ...


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