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Harsh v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

August 22, 2014

JENNIFER HARSH, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting 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, VERNON NORWOOD, 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 Jennifer Harsh[1] challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Harsh's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded.

II. Background

On March 11, 2010, Harsh filed applications for DIB and SSI under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 10, 2008. (Tr.[2] at 47-48, 114-22.) After her applications were denied, ( id. at 50-61), Harsh requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on June 3, 2011, ( id. at 20-45, 62). On August 16, 2011, 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 1-19.)

Harsh commenced the present action by filing her complaint on January 11, 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, 8.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 13, 14.)

III. Contentions

Harsh contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 13 at 11-25.) Specifically, Harsh claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) determining that her impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment; (2) assessing the opinion evidence of record; and (3) 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. 14 at 10-16.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 13 at 2-11; Dkt. No. 14 at 2-6.)

V. Standard of Review

The standard for reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)[3] 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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