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Gorman v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Second Circuit

August 9, 2013

JERRY WYAIN GORMAN, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

DECISION and ORDER

LAWRENCE E. KAHN, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter comes before the Court following a Report-Recommendation filed on May 28, 2013, by the Honorable Andrew T. Baxter, U.S. Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3(d) of the Northern District of New York. Dkt. No. 14 ("Report-Recommendation"). After fourteen days from the service thereof, the Clerk has sent the entire file to the undersigned, including the Objections by Plaintiff Jerry Wyain Gorman, Jr. ("Plaintiff"), which were filed on June 6, 2013. Dkt. No. 15 ("Objections"). Defendant the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") has filed a Response to the Objections. Dkt. No. 17 ("Response"). For the following reasons, the Court approves and adopts the Report-Recommendation in its entirety.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

On February 11, 2010, Plaintiff protectively filed for Disability Insurance Benefits, alleging disability with an onset date of March 1, 2009. Dkt. No. 9 ("Administrative Transcript") at 12, 110-11. Plaintiff alleges disability stemming from degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, obesity, history of gout, meniscal deterioration of the knee, history of carpal tunnel release procedure, sleep apnea, thyroid disease, and gastritis/gastroparesis. Dkt. No. 11 ("Plaintiff's Brief") at 2; Admin. Tr. at 14-15. Plaintiff's claims were initially denied on May 26, 2010. Admin. Tr. at 12. Plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing on June 4, 2010. Id . On February 15, 2011, Plaintiff appeared before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") who denied Plaintiff's claim in a decision dated August 26, 2011. Id. at 9-24. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 25, 2012. Id. at 1-3.

Plaintiff filed his appeal in this matter on June 8, 2012. Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint"). In his Report-Recommendation, Judge Baxter recommends that the Court deny Plaintiff's appeal and dismiss his Complaint. Dkt. No. 1 ("Complaint"). See generally Report-Rec.

B. Factual Background

The Court presumes the parties' familiarity with the facts underlying this case. For a complete statement of the facts, reference is made to the Administrative Transcript and the parties' respective Briefs. Pl.'s Br.; Dkt. No. 13 ("Commissioner's Brief").

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Review of Magistrate's Report-Recommendation

A district court must review de novo any objected-to portions of a magistrate judge's report-recommendation or specific proposed findings or recommendations therein and "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); accord FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b); see also Morris v. Local 804, Int'l Bhd. of Teamsters , 167 F.Appx. 230, 232 (2d Cir. 2006); Barnes v. Prack, No. 11-CV-0857, 2013 WL 1121353, at *1 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 18, 2013). If no objections are made, or if an objection is general, conclusory, perfunctory, or a mere reiteration of an argument made to the magistrate judge, a district court need review that aspect of a report-recommendation only for clear error. Chylinski v. Bank of Am., N.A., 434 F.Appx. 47, 48 (2d Cir. 2011); Barnes, 2013 WL 1121353, at *1; Farid v. Bouey , 554 F.Supp.2d 301, 306-07 & n.2 (N.D.N.Y. 2008); see also Machicote v. Ercole, No. 06 Civ. 13320 , 2011 WL 3809920, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 25, 2011) ("[E]ven a pro se party's objections to a Report and Recommendation must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the magistrate's proposal, such that no party be allowed a second bite at the apple by simply relitigating a prior argument."). A district court also "may receive further evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b); accord FED. R. CIV. P. 72(b)(3).

B. Review of the ALJ's Determination

A court reviewing a denial of disability benefits may not determine de novo whether an individual is disabled. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Wagner v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs. , 906 F.2d 856, 860 (2d Cir. 1990). Instead, a reviewing court will reverse the Commissioner's determination only if the correct legal standards were not applied or if the determination was not supported by substantial evidence. Johnson v. Bowen , 817 F.2d 983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987) ("Where there is a reasonable basis for doubt whether the ALJ applied correct legal principles, application of the substantial evidence standard to uphold a finding of no disability creates an unacceptable risk that a claimant will be deprived of the right to have her ...


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