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Colon-Torres v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 27, 2014

MARY A. COLON-TORRES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

JAYA A. SHURTLIFF, ESQ., Stanley Law Offices, Syracuse, NY.

Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC, KENNETH R. HILLER, ESQ., Amherst, NY, for the plaintiff.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, KATRINA M. LEDERER, Special Assistant U.S. 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 Mary A. Colon-Torres challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Colon-Torres' arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On February 23, 2009, Colon-Torres filed an application for SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 10, 1995. (Tr.[1] at 60, 135-41.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 61-64), Colon-Torres requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on December 1, 2010, ( id. at 41-59, 65-67). On January 21, 2011, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision denying the requested benefits, which became the Commissioner's final decision upon the Social Security Administration Appeals Council's denial of review. ( Id. at 1-4, 25-40.)

Colon-Torres commenced the present action by filing her complaint on October 24, 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. 12, 13.)

III. Contentions

Colon-Torres contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 12 at 6-11.) Specifically, Colon-Torres claims that the ALJ: (1) failed to fully develop the record; (2) rendered a residual functional capacity (RFC) determination that is unsupported by substantial evidence and internally inconsistent; and (3) failed to consult with a vocational expert (VE) in making her step five determination. ( 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. 13 at 5-9.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 12 at ...


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