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Fancher v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 3, 2014

LINDA FANCHER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Hinman, Howard Law Firm, JACQUELINE A. BAIN, ESQ., EUGENE D. FAUGHNAN, ESQ., Binghamton, NY, for the Plaintiff:

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, JOANNE JACKSON, 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 Linda Fancher challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of 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 Fancher's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On July 31, 2007, Fancher filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since August 5, 2005. (Tr.[1] at 38, 88-90.)[2] After her application was denied, ( id. at 41-48), Fancher requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on April 10, 2009 before ALJ Dennis O'Leary, ( id. at 17-35). On June 3, 2009, ALJ O'Leary issued an unfavorable decision denying the requested benefits. ( Id. at 7-16.) After the Appeals Council's subsequent denial of review, Fancher commenced an action in Federal District Court and, on consent of the parties, the matter was remanded for further administrative proceedings. ( Id. at 1-6, 444-46.) Thereafter, the Appeals Council remanded the case to ALJ Elizabeth Koennecke (hereinafter "the ALJ") who again denied Fancher's claim. ( Id. at 460-63, 501.) This became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Appeals Council's denial of review. ( Id. at 389-92.)

Fancher commenced the present action by filing her complaint on October 3, 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. 5, 6.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 14.)

III. Contentions

Fancher contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 10 at 6-9.) Specifically, Fancher claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) excluding anxiety from her severity determination; (2) applying the treating physician rule; and (3) determining Fancher's residual functional capacity (RFC). ( 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. 14 at 5-11.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 10 at ...


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