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Russell v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 11, 2015

BEVERLY L. RUSSELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

CHRISTOPHER CADIN, ESQ. LEGAL SERVICES OF CENTRAL NEW YORK, INC., Syracuse, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

MONIKA K. CRAWFORD, ESQ., SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Office of General Counsel, New York, New York, Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Commissioner of Social Security's ("Commissioner") decision to deny her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). This matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel for a Report-Recommendation and Order pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Rule 72.3(d), familiarity with which is assumed. Magistrate Judge Hummel recommended that this Court affirm the Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiff's application for benefits and dismiss the complaint. See Dkt. No. 15. Presently before the Court are Plaintiff's objections to the Report-Recommendation and Order. See Dkt. No. 16.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

Plaintiff applied for DIB and SSI on April 30, 2012, alleging a disability onset date of September 27, 2007. See Dkt. No. 9, Administrative Transcript ("T."), at 68, 76, 120-132, 142-44. The applications were initially denied on August 6, 2012. T. at 84-89. Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was held on December 5, 2012 before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Bruce S. Fein. T. at 35-67, 90-91. The ALJ issued a decision on January 25, 2013, finding that despite severe impairments - a seizure disorder, depression, and anxiety - Plaintiff was not disabled. T. at 12. Request for review by the Appeals Council was timely filed and, on June 28, 2013, the request was denied, rendering the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. T. at 1. Plaintiff commenced this action for judicial review of that decision by filing a complaint on August 22, 2013, see Dkt. No. 1, and both parties moved for judgment on the pleadings. See Dkt. Nos. 11, 14.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

In reviewing a final decision by the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405, the Court does not determine de novo whether a plaintiff is disabled. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Wagner v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856, 860 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, the Court must examine the Administrative Transcript to ascertain whether the correct legal standards were applied, and whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. See Lamay v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 562 F.3d 503, 507 (2d Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 559 U.S. 962 (2010); Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 500-01 (2d Cir. 1998). "Substantial evidence" is evidence that amounts to "more than a mere scintilla, " and it has been defined as "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citations and quotations omitted).

If supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's finding must be sustained "even where substantial evidence may support the plaintiff's position and despite that the court's independent analysis of the evidence may differ from the [Commissioner's]." Rosado v. Sullivan, 805 F.Supp. 147, 153 (S.D.N.Y. 1992). In other words, this Court must afford the Commissioner's determination considerable deference, and may not substitute "its own judgment for that of the [Commissioner], even if it might justifiably have reached a different result upon a de novo review." Valente v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 733 F.2d 1037, 1041 (2d Cir. 1984).

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), this Court engages in a de novo review of any part of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to which a party specifically objects. Failure to timely object to any portion of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation operates as a waiver of further judicial review of those matters. See Roland v. Racette, 984 F.2d 85, 89 (2d Cir. 1993) (quoting Small v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 892 F.2d 15, 16 (2d Cir. 1989)). "To the extent, ... that [a] party makes only conclusory or general arguments, or simply reiterates the original arguments, the Court will review the Report strictly for clear error." Watson v. Astrue, No. 08 Civ. 1523, 2010 WL 1645060, *1 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 22, 2010) (citing, inter alia, Ortiz v. Barkley, 558 F.Supp.2d 444, 451 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (observing that "[r]eviewing courts should review a report and recommendation for clear ...


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