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Rogers-Howell v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. New York

March 27, 2015

DEIRDRE MARGUERITE ROGERS-HOWELL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

HOWARD D. OLINSKY, ESQ. Olinsky Law Group, Syracuse, NY, for the Plaintiff.

HON. RICHARD S. HARTUNIAN, United States Attorney, TOMASINA DIGRIGOLI, Special Assistant U.S. 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, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Deirdre Marguerite Rogers-Howell 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 Rogers-Howell's arguments, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision and dismisses the complaint.

II. Background

On December 9, 2010, Rogers-Howell filed an application for DIB under the Social Security Act ("the Act"), alleging disability since October 22, 2009. (Tr.[1] at 88, 193-98.) After her application was denied, ( id. at 95-98), Rogers-Howell requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which was held on June 28, 2012, ( id. at 45-87, 99). On August 24, 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 1-6, 20-42.)

Rogers-Howell commenced the present action by filing her complaint on January 22, 2014 wherein she sought review of the Commissioner's determination. (Compl.) The Commissioner filed an answer and a certified copy of the administrative transcript. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 10.) Each party, seeking judgment on the pleadings, filed a brief. (Dkt. Nos. 12, 13.)

III. Contentions

Rogers-Howell contends that the Commissioner's decision is tainted by legal error and is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 12 at 10-18.) Specifically, Rogers-Howell claims that the ALJ erred in failing to: (1) properly evaluate the medical opinion evidence; (2) adequately assess her subjective complaints; and (3) obtain the testimony of a vocational expert (VE). (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 6-15.)

IV. Facts

The court adopts the parties' undisputed factual recitations. (Dkt. No. 12 at 2-9; Dkt. No. 13 at 2.)

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. ...


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