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Czolowski v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 23, 2015

RAYMOND R. CZOLOWSKI, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

Raymond R. Czolowski, Jr. Pro Se Mallory, NY, for the Plaintiff.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, JASON P. PECK, 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 pro se Raymond R. Czolowski, Jr. 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 Czolowski's arguments, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded.

II. Background

On July 8 and August 11, 2009, Czolowski filed applications for DIB and SSI, respectively, under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since March 30, 2008. (Tr.[1] at 96-109, 211-20.) After his applications were denied, ( id. at 110-15), Czolowski requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on September 8, 2011, ( id. at 63-95, 116). On November 14, 2011, 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, 44-62.)

Czolowski commenced the present action by filing his complaint on September 13, 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. 11, 12.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 14, 16.)

III. Contentions

Czolowski contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 14 at 3-8.)[2] Specifically, Czolowski claims that: (1) the ALJ failed to follow the treating physician rule; and (2) his impairments meet or are equivalent in severity to listing 12.04 and 12.08. ( 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. 16 at 6-15.)

IV. Facts

The court incorporates the factual recitations of the parties and the ALJ. ( See generally Dkt. No. 14; Dkt. No. 16; Tr. at 49-57.)

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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