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Dillenbeck v. Colvin

United States District Court, Second Circuit

October 9, 2013

STACEY LYNN DILLENBECK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

JAYA A. SHURTLIFF, ESQ., KENNETH R. HILLER, ESQ., Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC, Amherst, NY, for the Plaintiff.

ELIZABETH D. ROTHSTEIN, 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 Stacey Lynn Dillenbeck 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). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Dillenbeck's arguments, the court reverses and remands the Commissioner's decision.

II. Background

On September 29, 2008, Dillenbeck filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since June 1, 2001. (Tr.[1] at 62-63, 106-110.) After her applications were denied, ( id. at 64-69), Dillenbeck requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 11, 2010, ( id. at 32-61, 77-80). On October 29, 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. ( Id. at 1-4, 11-26.)

Dillenbeck commenced the present action by filing her Complaint on September 24, 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. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.)

III. Contentions

Dillenbeck contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 11 at 12-25.) Specifically, Dillenbeck claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) concluding that her mental health impairments are not severe; (2) determining her residual functional capacity (RFC); (3) assessing her credibility; and (4) failing to consult with a vocational expert. ( Id. ) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used by the ALJ and her decision is also supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 12 at 5-19.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 11 at 3-10; Dkt. No. 12 at 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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