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Sibley v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Second Circuit

June 18, 2013

LAURA L. SIBLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

FOR THE PLAINTIFF: LAWRENCE D. HASSELER, ESQ., Conboy, McKay Law Firm, Carthage, NY.

FOR THE DEFENDANT: SERGEI ADEN, 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.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Laura L. Sibley challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), [1] seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g). ( See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Sibley's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On October 21, 2009, Sibley filed an application for SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since April 25, 1998. ( See Tr.[2] at 33, 120-23.) After her application was denied, ( see id. at 34-37), Sibley requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 1, 2011, ( see id. at 27-32, 38-39). Sibley failed to appear at the hearing, however, and the ALJ issued a notice to show cause for failure to appear. ( See id. at 99-104.) Finding no good cause for Sibley's failure to appear at the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision on the record exclusive of hearing testimony, which denied the requested benefits. ( See id. at 12-26.) That unfavorable decision became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Social Security Administration Appeals Council's denial of review. ( See id. at 1-7.)

Sibley commenced the present action by filing her Complaint on May 15, 2012 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. 6, 7.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. ( See Dkt. Nos. 9, 11.)

III. Contentions

Sibley contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. ( See Dkt. No. 9 at 3-8.) Specifically, Sibley claims that the ALJ erred in failing to: (1) find that she suffered from a listing-level intellectual deficit; and (2) properly develop the record. ( See id. ) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used by the ALJ and her decision is also supported by substantial evidence. ( See Dkt. No. 11 at 11-17.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. ( See Dkt. No. 9 at ...


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