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Rapaport v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. New York

June 26, 2018


          Lewis B. Insler Law Office of Lewis B. Insler White Plains, New York Counsel for Plaintiff

          Amanda F. Parsels Allison Rovner United States Attorney's Office New York, New York Counsel for Defendant



         Plaintiff Aaron Rapaport brings this action pursuant to § 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act (the “SSA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3), seeking judicial review of a denial by the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”) of his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). Plaintiff and Defendant cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. On April 5, 2017, Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV issued a detailed and thorough Report and Recommendation (“Report” or “R&R”) recommending that Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings be denied and the Commissioner's cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings be granted. (Doc. 21.) Before me is Plaintiffs objection to the Report and Defendant's response to the objection. For the reasons discussed below, I adopt the Report in full.

         I. Factual Background and Procedural History

         I assume the parties' familiarity with the facts and record of prior proceedings and restate briefly only the information necessary to explain my decision.[1]

         Plaintiff was born on September 22, 1986 at 32 weeks gestation. (R&R 1-2.)[2]Plaintiffs claim of disability relates to certain developmental and psychiatric issues, including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, adjustment disorder, Asperger's syndrome, and other related conditions. (R&R 2, 12, 17.) Plaintiff graduated from high school in 2004, completed college in 2008, and received a master's degree in library science in 2011. (R&R 2, 12.) From 2012 until 2013, Plaintiff worked part-time as a library assistant at the New City Jewish Center until his job was terminated due to the Center's financial difficulties. (R&R 2, 12.) Plaintiff has not worked since 2013. (R&R 2.)

         On November 30, 2012, Plaintiff filed his application for SSI benefits. (R&R 12.) On June 14, 2013, Plaintiffs application was denied. (R&R 12.) Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), which was held on June 26, 2014 before ALJ Robert Gonzalez. (R&R 12.) On September 15, 2014, ALJ Gonzalez issued a decision finding that although Plaintiff had some mental limitations, he retained the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to work at all physical exertional levels, to understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions, to deal with changes in a routine work setting, and to occasionally interact with supervisors, coworkers, and the public, and was therefore not disabled under the SSA. (R. 9, 15, 19.)[3] On February 10, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review of the ALJ's decision, making the ALJ's determination the final decision of the Commissioner in this case. (R&R 13.)

         Plaintiff filed this action on April 7, 2016. (R&R 13.) I referred the case to Magistrate Judge Francis on June 20, 2016. (Doc. 10.) Magistrate Judge Francis issued his Report on April 5, 2017. (Doc. 21.) On April 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed his objection to the Report. (Doc. 22.) On April 24, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response to Plaintiffs Objection. (Doc. 23.)

         IL Legal Standards

         A. Review of the Magistrate Judge's Report

         A district court reviewing a magistrate judge's report and recommendation “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). A party may make objections to a report and recommendation “[w]ithin 14 days after being served with a copy of the recommended disposition.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The district court “may adopt those portions of the report to which no ‘specific, written objection' is made, as long as the factual and legal bases supporting the findings and conclusions set forth in those sections are not clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” Adams v. N.Y. State Dep't of Educ, 855 F.Supp.2d 205, 206 (S.D.N.Y. 2012) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)). “If a party timely objects to any portion of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made.” Bush v. Colvin, No. 15 Civ. 2062 (LGS) (DF), 2017 WL 1493689, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 26, 2017) (quoting United States v. Romano, 794 F.3d 317, 340 (2d Cir. 2015)). “Even where exercising de novo review, a district court ‘need not specifically articulate its reasons for rejecting a party's objections or for adopting a magistrate judge's report and recommendation in its entirety.'” Id. (quoting Morris v. Local 804, Int'l Bd. of Teamsters, 167 Fed.Appx. 230, 232 (2d Cir. 2006) (summary order)).

         A party's objection “must be specific and clearly aimed at particular findings in the R&R.” Bussey v. Rock, No. 12-CV-8267 (NSR) (JCM), 2016 WL 7189847, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 8, 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted). “[T]he court will review the R&R strictly for clear error when a party makes only conclusory or general objections, or simply reiterates the original arguments.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Ortiz v. Barkley, 558 F.Supp.2d 444, 451 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (noting that reviewing court “is only obliged to review the Report for clear error” where “objections largely reiterate the arguments made to, and rejected by” the magistrate judge); Vega v. Artuz, No. 97Civ.3775LTSJCF, 2002 WL 31174466, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2002) (“[O]bjections that are merely perfunctory responses argued in an attempt to engage the district court in a rehashing of the same arguments set forth in the original petition will not suffice to invoke de novo review of the magistrate's recommendations.”).

         B. Review of the ...

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