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Davis v. Colvin

United States District Court, Second Circuit

September 10, 2013

DANNETTE DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

KAREN S. SOUTHWICK, ESQ., Olinsky Law Group, Syracuse, NY, for Plaintiff.

SANDRA M. GROSSFELD, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, 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 Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Dannette Davis 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) and 1383(c)(3). ( See Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Davis' arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded for further administrative proceedings.

II. Background

On January 31, 2002, Davis filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since August 24, 2001. ( See Tr.[2] at 15, 24.)[3] After the applications were denied, Davis requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 12 and October 28, 2003 before ALJ Alfred Tyminski. ( See id. at 25-31, 438-80.) Subsequently, ALJ Tyminski issued an unfavorable decision and found that Davis was not disabled. ( See id. at 12-23.) After the Appeals Council's subsequent denial of review, Davis commenced an action in Federal District Court and, on consent of the parties, the matter was remanded for further administrative proceedings. ( See id. at 6-8, 875-77.)[4] Thereafter, the Appeals Council again remanded the case for a new hearing, which was conducted before ALJ Joseph Medicis. ( See id. at 878-82, 1115-42.) On May 30, 2007, ALJ Medicis issued a partially favorable decision, finding Davis disabled as of June 3, 2003. ( See id. at 1009-19.) At Davis' request, the Social Security Administration Appeals Council remanded the case to ALJ Bruce Fein (hereinafter "the ALJ"), who, upon reconsideration, again partially denied Davis' claim. ( See id. at 486-502, 1020-37.) This became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Appeals Council's denial of review. ( See id. at 481-83.)[5]

Davis commenced the present action by filing her Complaint on April 13, 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. 11, 18.)

III. Contentions

Davis contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. ( See Dkt. No. 11 at 13-21.) Specifically, Davis claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) determining her residual functional capacity (RFC); (2) evaluating her credibility; and (3) finding that there were jobs in the national economy that she could perform. ( 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. 18 at 7-16.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. ( See Dkt. No. 11 at 3-11; Dkt. No. 18 at 1.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)[6] 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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