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Hoffman v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

November 20, 2014

HEATHER M. HOFFMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

Coughlin, Gerhart Law Firm, SCOT G. MILLER, ESQ., Binghamton, NY, for the Plaintiff.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, SANDRA M. GROSSFELD, DAVID L. BROWN, Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Syracuse, NY, for the Defendant.

Steven P. Conte, Regional Chief Counsel, Social Security Administration, Office of General Counsel, Region II, New York, NY.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

GARY L. SHARPE, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Heather M. Hoffman challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of her claim for a period of disability and 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 Hoffman's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On August 24, 2010, Hoffman filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since December 11, 2009. (Tr.[1] at 52, 116-33.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 62-66), Hoffman requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on March 21, 2012, ( id. at 28-51, 69-72). On May 10, 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 1-4, 6-27.)

Hoffman commenced the present action by filing her complaint on July 7, 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, 14.)

III. Contentions

Hoffman contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 10 at 13-24.) Specifically, Hoffman claims that the ALJ erred in: (1) weighing the opinions of Hoffman's treating sources; (2) rendering a residual functional capacity (RFC) determination that is unsupported by substantial evidence; and (3) discounting her subjective complaints of pain due to her desire "to exercise her fundamental right to procreate." ( 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. 14 at 8-19.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 10 at ...


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