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Santos Llorens-Feliciano v. Michael J. Astrue

December 21, 2012

SANTOS LLORENS-FELICIANO, 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 Santos Llorens-Feliciano 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 LlorensFeliciano's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On February 25, 2008, Llorens-Feliciano filed an application for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 9, 2000. (See Tr.*fn1 at 181, 193.) After his application was denied, Llorens-Feliciano requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on January 18, 2011. (See id. at 37-59.) On March 9, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision denying the requested benefits, (see id. at 17-31); however, the Social Security Administration Appeals Council partially modified that decision with respect to Llorens-Feliciano's claim for SSI, (see id. at 1-3). While the Appeals Council determined that LlorensFeliciano was eligible for SSI as of March 9, 2011, it affirmed all other aspects of the ALJ's decision. (See id. at 1-3, 9-12.)

Llorens-Feliciano commenced the present action by filing a Complaint on August 4, 2011 wherein he sought review of the Commissioner's determination. (See Compl. ¶¶ 1-7.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (See Dkt. Nos. 9, 10.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed briefs. (See Dkt. Nos. 12, 16, 20.)

III. Contentions

Llorens-Feliciano contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, Llorens-Feliciano claims the ALJ: (1) denied him a full and fair hearing by not postponing the hearing "until the services of an acceptable interpreter were obtained"; (2) failed to find that his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and knee impairment were severe; (3) erred in evaluating his HIV/AIDs under Listing 14.08; (4) incorrectly determined his residual functional capacity (RFC); (5) improperly evaluated his credibility; and (6) posed an incomplete hypothetical to the vocational expert. (See Dkt. No. 12 at 1.) The Commissioner counters that substantial evidence*fn2 supports the ALJ's decision. (See generally Dkt. No. 16.)

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 12 at 1-13; Dkt. No. 16 at 1-14.)

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

A. Full and Fair ...


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