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Houle-Call v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Second Circuit

November 26, 2013

DOROTHY HOULE-CALL, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

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

TOMASINA DIGRIGOLI, 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 Dorothy Houle-Call 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 Houle-Call's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On September 10, 2009 and February 16, 2010, respectively, Houle-Call filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since May 8, 2009. (Tr.[1] at 51-52, 98-105.) After her applications were denied, ( id. at 60-65), Houle-Call requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), ( id. at 66), which was held on April 14, 2011, ( id. at 34-50). On May 6, 2011, 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 1-3, 18-30.)

Houle-Call commenced the present action by filing her complaint on November 15, 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. 7, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.)

III. Contentions

Houle-Call contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 11 at 3-5.) Specifically, Houle-Call claims that: (1) the residual functional capacity (RFC) is not supported by substantial evidence because the ALJ failed to consider Houle-Call's asthma and its effect on her ability to work; and (2) the ALJ's determination that Houle-Call can return to past relevant work is not supported by substantial evidence.[2] ( 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. 12 at 2-9.)

IV. Facts

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