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A.R.B. v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

May 10, 2017

A.R.B. a minor, by SABRINA BRINK, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY Defendant.

          LAW OFFICE OF PETER MARGOLIUS PETER MARGOLIUS, ESQ. Counsel for Plaintiff

          U.S. SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN. REBECCA H. ESTELLE, ESQ. OFFICE OF REG'L GEN. COUNSEL-REGION II Counsel for Defendant

          MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

          William B. Mitchell Carter U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         This matter was referred to me, for all proceedings and entry of a final judgment, pursuant to the Social Security Pilot Program, N.D.N.Y. General Order No. 18, and in accordance with the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P. 73, N.D.N.Y. Local Rule 73.1 and the consent of the parties. (Dkt. Nos. 4, 12)

         Currently before the Court, in this Social Security action filed by Sabrina Brink (“Plaintiff”) on behalf of her minor daughter, A.R.B. (“Claimant”) against the Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or “the Commissioner”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), are the parties' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 10.) For the reasons set forth below, it is ordered that Plaintiff's motion be denied and Defendant's motion be granted.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         At the time of filing Claimant was a school aged child and at the time of her hearing Claimant was an adolescent. (T. 15); 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(g)(2). Claimant's alleged disability consists of mood disorder. (T. 148.)

         B. Procedural History

         On March 14, 2013, Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act on Claimant's behalf. (T. 121.) Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which she timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“the ALJ”). On July 30, 3014, Plaintiff and Claimant appeared before the ALJ, Robert Wright. (T. 43-63.) On November 12, 2014, ALJ Wright issued a written decision finding Claimant not disabled under the Social Security Act. (T. 9-30.) On March 24, 2016, the Appeals Council (“AC”) denied Plaintiff's request for review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. 1-6.) Thereafter, Plaintiff timely sought judicial review in this Court.

         C. The ALJ's Decision

         Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law. First, the ALJ found that Claimant was a “school aged child” at the time of filing and an “adolescent” the time of the hearing pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(g)(2). (T. 15.) Second, the ALJ found that Claimant had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date. (Id.) Third, the ALJ found that Claimant suffered from the severe impairment of a mood disorder not otherwise specified. (Id.) Fourth, the ALJ found that Claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix I (“the Listings”). (Id.) Fifth, the ALJ found that Claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that functionally equaled an impairment set forth in the Listings. (T. 16-26.) Sixth, and finally, the ALJ concluded Claimant had not been disabled, as defined by the Social Security Act, since March 14, 2013, the date her application was filed. (T. 26.)

         II. THE PARTIES' BRIEFINGS

         A. Plaintiff's Arguments

         Generally, in support of her motion for judgment on the pleadings, Plaintiff makes two arguments. First, Plaintiff argues the ALJ's determination, that Claimant had less than a marked limitation in the domain of acquiring and using information, is not supported by substantial evidence. (Dkt. No. 9 at 2-3 [Pl.'s Mem. of Law].) Second, and lastly, Plaintiff argues the ALJ's determination that Claimant had less than marked limitations in the domain of interacting and relating with others, is not supported by substantial evidence. (Id. at 3-4.)

         B. Defendant's Argument

         Generally, in support of her cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings, Defendant makes one argument. Defendant argues substantial evidence supports the ALJ's finding that Claimant had a less than marked limitations in the domains of acquiring and using information, and interacting and relating with others. (Dkt. No. 10 at 8-12 [Def.'s Mem. of Law].)

         III. RELEVANT LEGAL STANDARD

         A court reviewing a denial of disability benefits may not determine de novo whether an individual is disabled. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3); Wagner v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 906 F.2d 856, 860 (2d Cir. 1990). Rather, the Commissioner's determination will only be reversed if the correct legal standards were not applied, or it was not supported by substantial evidence. See Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d 983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987) (“Where there is a reasonable basis for doubt whether the ALJ applied correct legal principles, application of the substantial evidence standard to uphold a finding of no disability creates an unacceptable risk that a claimant will be deprived of the right to have ...


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