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Lindsley v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. New York

February 3, 2017

BARBARA ANN LINDSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE MICHAEL A. TELESCA United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court following a Report & Recommendation (“R&R”) (Dkt #18) filed on October 24, 2016, by Hon. Hugh B. Scott, United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 72(b) and (c) of the Western District of New York. In the R&R, Magistrate Judge Scott recommended that the Commissioner's decision denying Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) to Barbara Ann Lindsley (“Plaintiff”) be affirmed in full.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 5, 2010, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI (“the First Applications”). (T.60, 61).[1] On March 28, 2012, an administrative law judge issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled (T.17-32). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on May 28, 2013. (T.1-5).

         On July 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed subsequent applications for DIB and SSI (“the Second Applications”), which were granted on October 15, 2013, at the initial administrative level, by a single decision-maker (“SDM”) (T.788-89; 790-96). The SDM found that Plaintiff was disabled as of March 29, 2012, the day after the ALJ's unfavorable decision on the First Applications. (T.789, 790).

         On July 25, 2013, Plaintiff commenced an action in this District appealing the denial of the First Applications. See Lindsley v. Colvin, No. 1:13-cv-00771 (W.D.N.Y.). On September 8, 2014, Hon. Richard J. Arcara, United States District Judge, adopted the R&R issued on August 11, 2014, by Magistrate Judge Scott, and remanded the First Applications for further administrative proceedings. (T.798-812).

         On November 10, 2014, the Appeals Council reopened the favorable determination made on the Second Applications because it found “good cause” to do so based upon a review of the evidence in the record. (T.720). The Appeals Council explained that the SDM had improperly concluded that Plaintiff had “marked” limitations in both maintaining social functioning and maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace. The Appeals Council then consolidated the First and Second Applications, and directed Administrative Law Judge Timonthy McGuan (“the ALJ”) to render a decision on both sets of claims. (T.717-18, 813-16). On August 19, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision, finding that Plaintiff has not been under a disability at any time relevant to the First and Second Applications. (T.667-92).

         Represented by counsel, Plaintiff timely commenced the instant action, and both parties moved for judgment on the pleadings. Magistrate Judge Scott issued his R&R on October 24, 2016, finding that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed. Specifically, the R&R found that (1) the Appeals Council had good cause to reopen the favorable determination on the Second Applications; (2) the ALJ appropriately considered the opinion by Physician's Assistant Lemley; and (3) the ALJ appropriately considered the opinion by Nurse Practitioner Kleckner.

         Through her attorney, Plaintiff filed Objections (“Pl's Obj.”) (Dkt #19) to the R&R on November 7, 2016. The only issue raised in Plaintiff's Objections is whether the Magistrate Judge erred when he found that the Appeals Council properly reopened the original favorable determination rendered on Plaintiff's Second Applications. The Acting Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin (“the Commissioner”) filed a Response to Plaintiff's objections, and Plaintiff filed a Reply. The matter subsequently was transferred to the undersigned.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Court adopts the R&R in full and dismisses Plaintiff's Complaint.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “In reviewing the R&R of a dispositive matter from a magistrate judge, the district court ‘may adopt those portions of the Report to which no objections have been made and which are not facially erroneous.'” Nansaram v. City of N.Y., No. 12-CV-5038 NGG RLM, 2015 WL 5518270, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 17, 2015) (quotation and citation omitted); see also Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), Advisory Comm. Notes (when a party makes no objection, or only general objections to a portion of an R&R, the district judge reviews it for clear error or manifest injustice). To preserve a claim for review by the district court, the party must make sufficiently specific objections to the R&R. E.g., Mario v. P & C Food Mkts., Inc., 313 F.3d 758, 766 (2d Cir. 2002). When, however, a party makes specific objections, the district judge must undertake a “de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made[, ]” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C), and “may . . . receive further evidence[.]” Id.

         PLAINTIFF'S ...


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