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Delvalle v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. New York

March 25, 2015

ROSEMARY DELVALLE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

OPINION & ORDER

PAUL A. ENGELMAYER, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff Rosemary Delvalle brings this action pursuant to § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying Delvalle's application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. On September 26, 2014, defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). Before the Court is the February 11, 2015 Report and Recommendation of the Honorable James C. Francis IV, United States Magistrate Judge, recommending that the Court grant the Commissioner's motion. Dkt. 18 (the "Report"). For the following reasons, the Court adopts the Report in full.

I. Background[1]

Delvalle, now 42 years old, has worked as a cashier, a clothing store salesperson, a home health aide, and a stagehand. She worked part-time in the latter two jobs until 2011, when she stopped working as a result of difficulty breathing.

On July 26, 2011, Delvalle applied for SSI benefits, based on her asthma, HIV status, and depression. Delvalle alleged that she had been disabled since October 19, 2010. On November 4, 2011, Delvalle's application for SSI benefits was denied. Delvalle timely requested and was granted a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). On December 18, 2012, the ALJ conducted a hearing, at which Delvalle testified.

On January 13, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Delvalle was not disabled and thus not entitled to benefits. He determined that Delvalle was capable of performing her past job as a cashier, and that there were other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform, for example, as a cafeteria attendant or a small-parts assembler. On February 20, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Delvalle's request for review.

On March 7, 2014, Delvalle, proceeding pro se, commenced the present action. See Dkt. 2 ("Complaint"). The Complaint asserts that the ALJ's decision was erroneous, unsupported by the medical evidence and testimony presented before and during the hearing, and contrary to governing law. Id. ¶ 9. On September 26, 2014, the Commissioner answered. Dkt. 16.

On that same day, the Court referred the case to Magistrate Judge Francis, Dkt. 17, and the Commissioner filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, Dkt. 12, and a supporting memorandum of law, Dkt. 13.

On February 11, 2015, Judge Francis issued the Report, recommending that the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings be granted. Dkt. 18. The Report stated that the parties were required to file any objections within 14 days of the date of the Report's issuance. See Report at 35. On March 4, 2015, Judge Francis issued an order, notifying Delvalle that failure to file objections would preclude appellate review, and provided the parties another 14 days from the date of the order's issuance to file objections to the Report. Dkt. 19. On March 16, 2015, Delvalle filed objections to the Report. Dkt. 20 ("Pl. Obj.").

II. Discussion

A. Applicable Legal Standards

"A district court may set aside the Commissioner's determination that a claimant is not disabled only if the factual findings are not supported by substantial evidence' or if the decision is based on legal error." Burgess v. Astrue, 537 F.3d 117, 127 (2d Cir. 2008) (citation omitted); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). "Substantial evidence means more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Burgess, 537 F.3d at 127 (citation omitted).

In reviewing a Report and Recommendation, a district court "may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). To accept those portions of the report to which no timely objection has been made, "a district court need only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record." Carlson v. Dep't of Justice, No. 10 Civ. 5149 (PAE) (KNF), 2012 WL 928124, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 19, 2012) (citation omitted); see also Wilds v. United Parcel Serv., Inc., 262 F.Supp.2d 163, 169 (S.D.N.Y. 2003). Where a party timely objects to a Report and Recommendation, the district court reviews those portions of the report to which the party objected de novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). However, "it is well-settled that when the objections simply reiterate previous arguments or make only conclusory statements, the Court should review the report for clear error." Dickerson v. Conway, No. 08 Civ. 8024 (PAE) (FM), 2013 WL 3199094, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2013); accord Kirk v. Burge, 646 F.Supp.2d 534, 538 (S.D.N.Y.2009) (collecting cases). That is, "courts should review a ...


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