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King v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Second Circuit

October 9, 2013

KARA J. KING, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

PETER M. MARGOLIUS, ESQ., Office of Peter M. Margolius, Catskill, NY, for the Plaintiff.

ANDREEA L. LECHLEITNER, 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 Kara J. King 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). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering King's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded for further administrative proceedings.

II. Background

On November 14 and November 21, 2006, King filed applications for DIB and SSI, respectively, under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since November 2, 2006. (Tr.[1] at 32-33, 331-41.) After her applications were denied, ( id. at 34-39), King requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on January 20, 2009, ( id. at 15-31). On March 3, 2009, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision denying the requested benefits. ( Id. at 5-14.) After the Appeals Council's subsequent denial of review, King commenced an action in Federal District Court and, on consent of the parties, the matter was remanded for further administrative proceedings. ( Id. at 1-3, 239-40.) Thereafter, the Appeals Council remanded the case for a new hearing, which was conducted on August 9, 2011. ( Id. at 186-210, 242-45.) On August 26, 2011, the ALJ again issued a decision denying benefits, which became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Appeals Council's denial of review. ( Id. at 160-62, 172-85.)

King commenced the present action by filing her complaint on November 15, 2012 wherein she sought review of the Commissioner's determination. (Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (Dkt. Nos. 7, 8.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 11.)

III. Contentions

King contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 10 at 5-7.) Specifically, King claims that the ALJ erred in finding that the testimony of a vocational expert (VE) did not conflict with the information contained in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). ( Id. ) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used by the ALJ and his decision is also supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 11 at 6-15.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 10 at 1-4; Dkt. No. 11 at 1-2.)

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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