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Carthron-Kelly v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. New York

January 9, 2018

LORA CARTHRON-KELLY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          SEVERANCE, BURKO, SPALTER & MASONE, PC Counsel for Plaintiff.

          SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF GEN. COUNSEL-REGION II Counsel for Defendant.

          OF COUNSEL: LOUIS R. BURKO, ESQ. DAVID B. MYERS, ESQ. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.

          DECISION AND ORDER

          GLENN T. SUDDABY, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Currently before the Court, in this action by Lora Carthron-Kelly (“Plaintiff”) against the Commissioner of Social Security (“Defendant” or “Commissioner”) seeking Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) benefits, are (1) the Report-Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge William B. Mitchell Carter recommending that the Commissioner's decision be affirmed and Plaintiff's Complaint be dismissed, (2) Plaintiff's Objection to the Report-Recommendation, and (3) Defendant's response to Plaintiff's Objection. (Dkt. Nos. 31, 32, 33.) For the reasons set forth below, the Report-Recommendation is accepted and adopted in its entirety and Plaintiff's Complaint is dismissed.

         I. RELEVANT BACKGROUND

         A. Relevant Procedural History

         On April 20, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Social Security Income (“SSI”) alleging a disability consisting of neck and back impairments, and a disability onset date of May 9, 2009. (Administrative Transcript [“T.”] at T. 189, 667.) Plaintiff's application was initially denied, after which she requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). On January 29, 2013, and June 13, 2013, a hearing was held before ALJ Edward I. Pitts. (T. at 79-123, 124-88.) On July 31, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. (T. at 57-78.) On January 6, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for further review, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (T. at 1-7.) On March 3, 2015, Plaintiff filed this action in federal court. (Dkt. No. 1.)

         B. Summary of the ALJ's Decision

         Generally, in his decision, the ALJ made the following five findings of fact and conclusions of law: (1) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 20, 2011; (2) Plaintiff has the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine as well as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”); (3) Plaintiff does not have an impairment that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments located in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; (4) Plaintiff has the residual functioning capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, with additional non-exertional limitations; and (5) Plaintiff was incapable of performing her past relevant work (in nursing and housekeeping) but that jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (T. at 68-71.)

         C. The Parties' Cross-Motions for Judgment on the Pleadings

         1. Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings

         Generally, in Plaintiff's brief in support of her motion for judgment on the pleadings, she asserts the following four arguments: (1) that the Appeals Council erred by failing to remand the matter to the ALJ for consideration of the newly submitted evidence (including an operative report); (2) that the ALJ erred in finding Plaintiff could perform light work because the finding was not based on substantial evidence; (3) that the ALJ erred by failing to incorporate relevant mental limitations (from consultative examiner Jeanne Shapiro, Ph.D.) into hypothetical questions or the RFC determination; and (4) that the ALJ failed to satisfy his burden of establishing that there was other work in the national economy Plaintiff could perform. (Dkt. No. 23, at Points I-IV.)

         2. Defendant's Motion for ...


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