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Degraw v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

July 3, 2014

RICKY DEGRAW, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, 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, JEREMY A. LINDEN, 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, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Ricky Degraw[1] 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.)[2] After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Degraw's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On December 22, 2010, Degraw filed an application for SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since August 5, 2001. (Tr.[3] at 62-68, 123-29.) After his application was denied, ( id. at 69-72), Degraw requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on April 2, 2012, ( id. at 28-61, 76-78). On May 4, 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, 8-27.)

Degraw commenced the present action by filing his complaint on July 2, 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. 8, 9.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 14.)

III. Contentions

Degraw contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 11 at 8-24.) Specifically, Degraw claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) assessing the severity of Degraw's impairments; (2) determining Degraw's residual functional capacity (RFC); and (3) concluding that there is other work that Degraw can perform. ( 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. 14 at 4-25.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 11 at 1-8; Dkt. No. 14 at 1.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)[4] 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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