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Clow v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

February 19, 2015

DONALD CLOW, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MAGGIE W. MCOMBER, ESQ., Law Offices of Steven R. Dolson, Syracuse, NY, for the Plaintiff.

BENIL ABRAHAM, REBECCA H. ESTELLE, Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys, HON. 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 Donald Clow 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). (Compl., Dkt. No. 1.) After reviewing the administrative record and carefully considering Clow's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On June 28, 2010 and July 8, 2010, Clow filed applications for DIB and SSI, respectively, under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 1, 2007. (Tr.[1] at 59-60, 127-134.)[2] After his applications were denied, ( id. at 67-74), Clow requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on June 5, 2012, ( id. at 76-83, 42-58). On June 22, 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, 7-22.)

Clow commenced the present action by filing his complaint on August 16, 2013 wherein he 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

Clow contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 10 at 3-7.) Specifically, Clow claims that the ALJ erred in (1) rendering his residual functional capacity (RFC) determination; and (2) determining that he was capable of performing his past relevant work. ( 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 incorporates the factual recitations of the parties and the ALJ. (Dkt. No. 10 at 1-2; Dkt. No. 13 at 1; Tr. at 12-18.)

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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