United States District Court, N.D. New York
CHARLES E. BINDER, ESQ., Binder, Binder Law Firm, New York, NY, for the Plaintiff.
SANDRA M. GROSSFELD, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, 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.
Plaintiff John Curtis Jenkins challenges the Commissioner of Social Security's 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 Jenkins' arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses Jenkins' complaint.
On October 19, 2011, Jenkins filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since April 6, 2009. (Tr. at 74, 127-28.) After his application was denied, ( id. at 75-80), Jenkins requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), ( id. at 84-85). A hearing was held on December 4, 2012. ( Id. at 47-73.) On January 15, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision denying the requested benefits, ( id. at 25-46), which became the Commissioner's final determination upon the Appeals Council's denial of review, ( id. at 1-5).
Jenkins commenced the present action by filing his complaint on August 23, 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. 5, 6.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 14.)
Jenkins contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 9 at 12-25.) Specifically, Jenkins argues that the ALJ erred by failing to follow the treating physician rule, improperly evaluating his credibility, and relying on flawed vocational expert (VE) testimony, and that the Appeals Council failed to consider new and material 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. 14 at 6-16.)
The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 9 at 1-12; Dkt. No. 14 at 1.)
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. ...