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Charlton v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 31, 2013

WAYNE E. CHARLTON, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

LAWRENCE D. HASSELER, ESQ., Conboy, McKay Law Firm, Carthage, NY for the Plaintiff.

JEREMY A. LINDEN, 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 Wayne E. Charlton challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and 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 Charlton's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded.

II. Background

In March and April 2010, Charlton filed applications for SSI and DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since September 2, 2009. ( See Tr.[1] at 63-64, 117-25.) After his application was denied, ( see id. at 66-71), Charlton requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on July 5, 2011, ( see id. at 74, 408-27). On July 15, 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 1-5, 10-25.)

Charlton commenced the present action by filing his Complaint on April 4, 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. 7, 8.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. ( See Dkt. Nos. 13, 16.)

III. Contentions

Charlton contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. ( See Dkt. No. 13 at 15-34.) Specifically, Charlton claims that the ALJ erred when he: (1) failed to find Charlton's intermittent explosive disorder, depression, and anxiety to be severe impairments; (2) improperly weighed the medical evidence; and (3) improperly evaluated Charlton's residual functional capacity (RFC). ( 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. 16 at 3-18.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. ( See Dkt. No. 13 at 1-15; Dkt. No. 16 at 1.)

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 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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