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Robert Waldau v. Michael J. Astrue

December 21, 2012

ROBERT WALDAU, 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 Robert Waldau challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"), 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 Waldau's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On April 7, 2009, Waldau filed an application for SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since December 21, 2005. (See Tr.*fn1 at 96, 162-64.) After his application was denied, (see id. at 100-07), Waldau requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 25, 2010. (See id. at 37-77, 108.) At the close of the hearing, the ALJ requested that Waldau attend an additional consultative examination in order to further develop the record, which he did attend. (See id. at 73-74, 311-15.) Thereafter, a second administrative hearing was held. (See id. at 78-95.) On March 25, 2011, 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 1-11, 19-36.)

Waldau commenced the present action by filing his Complaint on August 4, 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. 11, 13.)

III. Contentions

Waldau contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 11 at 5-18.) Specifically, Waldau claims that the: (1) ALJ's step two determination is infirm as he failed to find that certain of Waldau's impairments are severe; (2) residual functional capacity (RFC) determination is not supported by substantial evidence and is the product of legal error; (3) ALJ failed to apply the appropriate legal standards in assessing his credibility; and (4) hypothetical question posed to the vocational expert (VE) was incomplete. (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. 13 at 11-24 .)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 11 at 2-5; Dkt. No. 13 at 2-7.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)*fn2 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 decision 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. Step Two ...


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