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House v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, N.D. New York

September 5, 2014

EARLENE HOUSE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

DeSantis, DeSantis Law Firm, MICHAEL V. DESANTIS, ESQ., Utica, NY, for the Plaintiff.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, AMANDA J. LOCKSHIN, United States Attorney, 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 Earlene House challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's partial denial of Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering House's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses House's complaint.

II. Background

On June 16, 2010, House filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since January 2, 2010. (Tr.[1] at 64, 124-28.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 65-68), House requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), ( id. at 71-73). A hearing was held on September 14, 2011. ( Id. at 30-63.) On November 23, 2011, the ALJ issued a partially favorable decision, denying the requested benefits as of the alleged onset date of January 2, 2010, but finding that House was disabled as of January 3, 2011, ( id. at 12-29), which became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Appeals Council's denial of review, ( id. at 1-6).

House commenced the present action by filing her complaint on July 2, 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. 10, 13.)

III. Contentions

House contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 10 at 5-19.) Specifically, House argues that the ALJ erred in determining her residual functional capacity (RFC) by improperly weighing the record evidence. ( 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. 13 at 4-9.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 10 at 4-5; Dkt. No. 13 at 1-2.)

V. Standard of Review

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