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Austin v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 1, 2013

WANDA J. AUSTIN, o/b/o R.M.B., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

KAREN S. SOUTHWICK, Olinsky Law Group, Syracuse, NY, for the Plaintiff.

RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, TOMASINA DIGRIGOLI, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, Syracuse, NY, Steven P. Conte, Regional Chief Counsel, Social Security Administration, Office of General Counsel, Region II, New York, NY, for the Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Wanda J. Austin o/b/o R.M.B., challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). ( See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering the arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On April 8, 2008, Austin protectively filed an application for SSI under the Social Security Act on behalf of her daughter, a minor, alleging disability since March 1, 2007. ( See Tr.[1] at 46, 85-88.) After the application was denied, Austin requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on March 26, 2010. ( See id. at 19-45, 47-52, 60-61.) On June 8, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying the requested benefits, which became the Commissioner's final decision upon the Social Security Administration Appeals Council's denial of review. ( See id. at 1-4, 5-18.)

Austin commenced the present action by filing a complaint on March 15, 2012, seeking review of the Commissioner's determination. ( See Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. ( See Dkt. Nos. 12, 14.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. ( See Dkt. Nos. 16, 18.)

III. Contentions

Austin avers that the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and was arrived at through the application of incorrect legal standards. ( See Dkt. No. 16 at 10-20.) Specifically, Austin contends that the ALJ erred in: (1) developing the record; (2) assessing the credibility of Austin and R.M.B.; and (3) deciding that R.M.B.'s impairments did not functionally equal a listed impairment. ( See id. ) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used by the ALJ and his decision is supported by substantial evidence. ( See Dkt. No. 18 at 8-17.)

IV. Facts

The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. ( See id. at 2-6; Dkt. No. 16 at 2-8.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)[2] is well established and will not be repeated here. For a full discussion of the standard of review, 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). Similarly, for a full discussion of the three-step analysis used by the Social Security Administration to determine whether individuals under the age of eighteen are disabled, the court refers the parties to its previous opinion in Shatraw ex rel. K.C.Y., III, v. Astrue, No. 7:11-cv-13, 2012 WL 589667, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2012).

VI. Discussion

A. Developing ...


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