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Jeffrey C. Stelter v. Carolyn W. Colvin

April 19, 2013

JEFFREY C. STELTER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING 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 Jeffrey C. Stelter challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of his claim for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Stelter's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On March 12, 2008, Stelter filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since December 31, 2004. (See Tr.*fn1 at 96, 139-42.)*fn2 After his application was denied, (see id. at 98-103), Stelter requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on November 17, 2009. (See id. at 55-94, 104-05.) On April 16, 2010, 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 12-17, 25-41.)

Stelter commenced the present action by filing his Complaint on January 19, 2012 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. 10, 11.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (See Dkt. Nos. 13, 15.)

III. Contentions

Stelter contends that the Commissioner's decision was the product of legal error and is unsupported by substantial evidence. (See Dkt. No. 13 at 9-20.) Specifically, Stelter claims that the ALJ: (1) committed error in determining his residual functional capacity (RFC) for non-exertional activities by improperly weighing the opinion evidence; and (2) improperly assessed his credibility. (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. 15 at 4-12.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (See Dkt. No. 13 at 3-6; Dkt. No. 15 at 2.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) 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. Weighing Opinion ...


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