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Carpenter v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 5, 2014

ANDREA E. CARPENTER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

Conboy, McKay Law Firm LAWRENCE D. HASSELER, ESQ., Carthage, NY, for the Plaintiff.

RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, SIXTINA FERNANDEZ, 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 Andrea E. Carpenter challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Carpenter's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded.

II. Background

On April 23, 2010, Carpenter filed an application for SSI under the

Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 27, 2008. (Tr.[1] at 53, 113-16.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 54-57), Carpenter requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 1, 2011, ( id. at 60, 26-46). On September 12, 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 1-6, 10-25.)

Carpenter commenced the present action by filing her complaint on November 29, 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. 8, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.)

III. Contentions

Carpenter contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 11 at 11-21.) Specifically, Carpenter claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) assessing the severity of Carpenter's intellectual functioning; (2) failing to find that Carpenter suffers a listing level impairment; (3) rendering a residual functional capacity (RFC) determination that is unsupported by substantial evidence; and (4) substituting her own judgment for competent medical opinion. ( 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. 12 at 6-14.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. >No. 11 at ...


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