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Beach v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 5, 2014

KEVIN P. BEACH, SR., 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, 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 Kevin P. Beach, Sr. challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.)[1] After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Beach's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On May 3, 2010, Beach filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since July 6, 2009. (Tr.[2] at 79, 172-78.) After his application was denied, ( id. at 80-85), Beach requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 12, 2011, ( id. at 45-78, 86-87). On January 10, 2012, 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, 12-29.)

Beach commenced the present action by filing his complaint on March 21, 2013 wherein he sought review of the Commissioner's determination. (Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (Dkt. Nos. 7, 8.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 11.)

III. Contentions

Beach contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 10 at 15-24.) Specifically, Beach claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) developing the record; (2) evaluating his impairments under listing 1.04; (3) applying the treating physician rule; and (4) rendering his residual functional capacity (RFC) determination. ( 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. 11 at 5-11.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 10 at 1-15; Dkt. No. 11 at 1.)

V. Standard of Review

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