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Karen Degroff v. Commissioner of Social Security

December 21, 2012

KAREN DEGROFF, PLAINTIFF,
v.
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 Karen DeGroff challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and seeks 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 DeGroff's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On May 7, 2008, DeGroff filed an application for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since January 1, 2000. (See Tr.*fn1 at 17, 79-80.) After her application was denied, DeGroff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on July 16, 2010. (See id. at 41-78, 90.) On July 22, 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, 17-25.)

DeGroff commenced the present action by filing a Complaint on January 26, 2012, wherein she sought review of the Commissioner's determination. (See Compl. ¶¶ 1-4.) 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. 10, 11.)

III. Contentions

DeGroff contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence.*fn2 Specifically, DeGroff claims the ALJ: (1) improperly determined her residual functional capacity (RFC); and (2) relied on an incomplete hypothetical. (See Dkt. No. 10 at 1, 3-5.) The Commissioner counters that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision. (See generally Dkt. No. 11.)

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 10 at 1-2; Dkt. No. 11 at 1-8.)

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 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*fn4

A. RFC ...


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