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Farrell v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Second Circuit

August 16, 2013

JUDY A. FARRELL, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

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

VERNON NORWOOD, 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 Judy A. Farrell challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). ( See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.)[1] After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Farrell's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the Complaint.

II. Background

On August 7, 2007, Farrell filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since August 15, 2006. ( See Tr.[2] at 90, 125-32.) After her application was denied, ( see id. at 92-95), Farrell requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on April 21, 2010, ( see id. at 46-89, 98). On July 7, 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 1-6, 14-34.)

Farrell commenced the present action by filing her Complaint on March 7, 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. 8, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. ( See Dkt. Nos. 14, 17.)

III. Contentions

Farrell contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. ( See Dkt. No. 14 at 9-24.) Specifically, Farrell claims that the ALJ: (1) improperly assessed the severity of her chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and migraine headaches; (2) failed to apply the treating physician rule; (3) erred in evaluating her credibility; (4) failed to properly apply the psychiatric review technique; (4) improperly determined her residual functional capacity (RFC); and (5) made a step five determination that was unsupported by substantial evidence. ( 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. 17 at 15-24.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. ( See Dkt. No. 14 at 1-8; Dkt. No. 17 at 2-12.)

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. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 1:05-CV-932, 2008 WL 759076, at *1-2 (N.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2008).

VI. Discussion

A. Severity ...


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