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Dutcher v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 27, 2014

STEPHANIE DUTCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

STEPHEN J. MASTAITIS, JR., Office of Stephen J. Mastaitis, Jr., Saratoga Springs, NY, for the Plaintiff.

JEREMY A. LINDEN, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, Syracuse, NY, for the Defendant.

Steven P. Conte, Regional Chief Counsel, Social Security Administration, Office of General Counsel, Region II, New York, NY.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Stephanie Dutcher challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of her claim for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Dutcher's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On April 23, 2010, Dutcher filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since February 13, 2007. (Tr.[1] at 62, 114-20.)[2] After her application was denied, ( id. at 71-76), Dutcher requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on June 30, 2011, ( id. at 26-60, 80-81). On September 8, 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 2-5, 8-25.)

Dutcher commenced the present action by filing her complaint on November 8, 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. 9, 10.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 14, 17.)

III. Contentions

Dutcher contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 14 at 7-10; Dkt. No. 14, Attach. 1 at 1-17.)[3] Specifically, Dutcher claims that the ALJ: (1) erred in failing to find that her severe impairments meet listings 1.02 and/or 1.04; (2) rendered a residual functional capacity (RFC) determination that is unsupported by substantial evidence; and (3) erred in failing to obtain the testimony of a vocational expert (VE).[4] (Dkt. No. 14 at 7-10; Dkt. No. 14, Attach. 1 at 1-17.) The Commissioner counters that the appropriate legal standards were used by the ALJ and his decision is also supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 17 at 5-17.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 14 at ...


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