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Bertram v. Colvin

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 31, 2013

ICHELLE L. BERTRAM, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

PETER W. ANTONOWICZ, ESQ., Office of Peter W. Antonowicz, Rome, NY, for the Plaintiff.

DAVID L. BROWN, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States 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 District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Michelle L. Bertram challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of 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 Bertram's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On February 17, 2009, Bertram filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 19, 2008. ( See Tr.[2] at 61, 116-24.)[3] After her application was denied, ( see id. at 62-67), Bertram requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 24, 2010, ( see id. at 38-59, 68-70). On September 22, 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 1-5, 16-37.)

Bertram commenced the present action by filing her Complaint on December 21, 2011 wherein she 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, 12.)

III. Contentions

Bertram contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. ( See Dkt. No. 11 at 8-15.) Specifically, Bertram claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) failing to find that her mental retardation was a severe impairment; and (2) improperly evaluating whether her condition met listing 12.05(C). ( 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. 12 at 15-20.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. ( See Dkt. No. 11 at 3-5; Dkt. No. 12 at 2-11.)

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. ...


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