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Smith v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

July 10, 2014

CARL SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

Carl Smith, Pro Se Rochester, New York, for the Plaintiff.

SERGEI ADEN, 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 the Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, Chief District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff pro se Carl Smith challenges defendant Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), seeking review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) In a Report and Recommendation (R&R) filed March 18, 2014, Magistrate Judge Earl S. Hines recommended that the case be remanded for further administrative proceedings pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Dkt. No. 18.) Pending are the Commissioner's objections to the R&R. (Dkt. No. 19.) For the reasons that follow, the court adopts the R&R in its entirety.

II. Background[1]

On June 24, 2010, Smith filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 15, 2009. (Tr.[2] at 61, 130-31.) After his application was denied, Smith requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on August 16, 2011. ( Id. at 34-60, 62-67, 69.) On August 31, 2011, the ALJ issued a 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 8-10, 14-30.)

Smith commenced the present action by filing a complaint on December 26, 2012, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's determination. (Compl.) After receiving the parties' briefs, Judge Hines issued an R&R recommending that the Commissioner's decision be remanded for further proceedings. ( See generally Dkt. No. 18.)

III. Standard of Review

By statute and rule, district courts are authorized to refer social security appeals to magistrate judges for proposed findings and recommendations as to disposition. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), (B); N.D.N.Y. L.R. 40.1, 72.3(d); General Order No. 18. Before entering final judgment, this court reviews report and recommendation orders in cases it has referred to a magistrate judge. If a party properly objects to a specific element of the magistrate judge's findings and recommendations, this court reviews those findings and recommendations de novo. See Almonte v. N.Y. State Div. of Parole, No. Civ. 904CV484GLS, 2006 WL 149049, at *3, *5 (N.D.N.Y. Jan. 18, 2006). In cases where no party has filed an objection, only vague or general objections are made, or a party resubmits the same papers and arguments already considered by the magistrate judge, this court reviews the findings and recommendations of the magistrate judge for clear error. See id. at *4-5.

IV. Discussion

The Commissioner raises one specific objection to the R&R, which the court will review de novo. The remainder of the R&R will be reviewed for clear error.

A. New Evidence

The Commissioner objects to Judge Hines' conclusion that new evidence, not previously available to the ALJ or Appeals Council, should be considered at the agency level. (Dkt. No. 19 at 2-4.) According to the Commissioner, a "sentence six" remand is ...


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