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Sokolowski v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

June 5, 2014

DIANE MARIE SOKOLOWSKI, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

STEVEN R. DOLSON, ESQ., Law Offices of Steven R. Dolson, Syracuse, NY,

KENNETH R. HILLER, ESQ., Law Offices of Kenneth Hiller, PLLC, Amherst, NY, for plaintiff.

SIXTINA FERNANDEZ, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, 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 Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Diane Marie Sokolowski 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 Sokolowski's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On December 2, 2010, Sokolowski filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since November 18, 2010. (Tr.[1] at 65, 160-66.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 74-79), Sokolowski requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on February 6, 2012, ( id. at 38-64, 80-81). On April 26, 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, 10-30.)

Sokolowski commenced the present action by filing her complaint on June 25, 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. 8, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 13.)

III. Contentions

Sokolowski contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 11 at 3-10.) Specifically, Sokolowski claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) applying the treating physician rule; (2) assessing Sokolowski's nonexertional impairments; and (3) relying on the testimony of a Vocational Expert (VE) that conflicts with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). ( 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. 13 at 5-14.)

IV. Facts

The court incorporates the factual recitations of the parties and the ALJ. (Dkt. No. 11 at 2, Dkt. ...


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