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Griffin v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 27, 2014

JOEY GRIFFIN, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Olinsky Law Group, HOWARD D. OLINSKY, ESQ., Syracuse, NY, MICHAEL J. TELFER, ESQ., Legal Aid Society of Northeast New York, Albany, NY, for the Plaintiff.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, KRISTINA D. COHN, MARIA P. FRAGASSI SANTANGELO, Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Syracuse, NY, Steven P. Conte, Regional Chief Counsel, Social Security Administration, Office of General Counsel, Region II, New York, NY, for the Defendant.


GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Joey Griffin challenges defendant Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), seeking review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) In a Report and Recommendation (R&R) filed September 18, 2013, Magistrate Judge Earl S. Hines recommended that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed and Griffin's complaint be dismissed.[1] (R&R, Dkt. No. 18.) Pending are Griffin's objections to the R&R. (Dkt. No. 19.) For the reasons that follow, the court adopts the R&R in its entirety.

II. Background[2]

On January 29, 2009, Griffin filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act. (R&R at 2; Tr.[3] at 53-54, 101-12.) After his applications were denied, Griffin requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on July 27, 2010. (Tr. at 33-52, 55-62, 65-67.) On September 22, 2010, the ALJ issued a 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 5-9, 18-31.)

Griffin commenced the present action by filing his complaint on June 15, 2012 seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's determination. (Compl.) After receiving the parties' briefs, Judge Hines issued an R&R recommending that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed. ( See generally R&R.)

III. Standard of Review

By statute and rule, district courts are authorized to refer social security appeals to magistrate judges for proposed findings and recommendations as to disposition. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), (B); N.D.N.Y. L.R. 40.1, 72.3(d); General Order No. 18. Before entering final judgment, this court reviews report and recommendation orders in cases it has referred to a magistrate judge. If a party properly objects to a specific element of the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations, this court reviews those findings and recommendations de novo. See Almonte v. N.Y. State Div. of Parole, No. Civ. 904CV484GLS, 2006 WL 149049, at *3, *5 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2006). In cases where no party has filed an objection, only vague or general objections are made, or a party resubmits the same papers and arguments already considered by the magistrate judge, this court reviews the findings and recommendations of the magistrate judge for clear error. See id. at *4-5.

IV. Discussion

Griffin purports to object to the R&R on two grounds. First, he asserts that Judge Hines improperly found that the ALJ's residual functional capacity determination was supported by substantial evidence, and, second, he argues that Judge Hines' "[s]tep [five] recommendation should be rejected." (Dkt. No. 19 at 1-3.) The substance of these arguments, however, was previously raised in Griffin's brief and considered and rejected by Judge Hines. (Dkt. No. 12 at 10-13, 20-21; R&R at 6-14, 24-27.) Griffin's "objections, " therefore, are general and do not warrant de novo review. See Almonte, 2006 WL 149049 at *4. The court, having carefully reviewed the record, finds no clear error in the R&R and accepts and adopts it in its entirety.

V. Conclusion

WHEREFORE, for the foregoing reasons, it is hereby

ORDERED that Magistrate Judge Earl S. Hines' September 18, 2013 Report and Recommendation (Dkt. No. 18) is ADOPTED in its entirety; and it is further

ORDERED that the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED and Griffin's Complaint (Dkt. No. 1) is DISMISSED; and it is further

ORDERED that the Clerk close this case; and it is further

ORDERED that the Clerk provide a copy of this Memorandum-Decision and Order to the parties.


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