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Decker v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 22, 2014

KIMBERLY DECKER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

Lachman, Gorton Law Firm, PETER A. GORTON, ESQ., Endicott, NY, for the Plaintiff.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, DANIEL R. JANES, DAVID L. BROWN, 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.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Kimberly Decker challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.)[1] After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Decker's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded.

II. Background

On May 23, 2007, Decker filed an application for SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since December 31, 2006. (Tr.[2] at 116, 261-63.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 133-36), Decker requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on September 10, 2009, ( id. at 139, 41-74). On September 25, 2009, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision denying the requested benefits. ( Id. at 117-28.) At Decker's request, the Appeals Council remanded the decision to the ALJ to further develop the record and obtain testimony from a vocational expert (VE). ( Id. at 129-32.) A second administrative hearing was held on September 21, 2011. ( Id. at 75-115.) On December 29, 2011, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision again denying the benefits. ( Id. at 17-37.) That decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Decker's request for review. ( Id. at 2-8.)

Decker commenced the present action by filing her complaint on June 10, 2013 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. 13, 17.)

III. Contentions

Decker contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 13 at 5-20.) Specifically, Decker contends that the ALJ erred in: (1) evaluating her intellectual deficits; and (2) making his step five 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. 17 at 5-17.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 13 at ...


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