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Hall v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 3, 2014

DAWN HALL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

VICTORIA M. ESPOSITO, ESQ., Legal Aid Society of Northeastern, New York, Inc., Canton, 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 Dawn Hall challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Hall's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On August 31, 2009, Hall filed an application for SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since July 1, 2009. (Tr.[1] at 65, 115-17.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 66-69), Hall requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on February 24, 2011, ( id. at 27-64, 70). On April 7, 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 1-4, 11-26.)

Hall commenced the present action by filing her complaint on November 26, 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. 7, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.)

III. Contentions

Hall contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 11 at 22-24.) Specifically, Hall claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) failing to consider her social phobia in making his step two determination; (2) weighing the medical evidence; and (3) evaluating her credibility. ( 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 4-11.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 11 at 1-21; Dkt. No. 12 at 1.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)[2] 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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