Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Thomas C. Platt, Jr., Judge, granting the Secretary's motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissing the complaint.
Meskill, Cardamone and Pierce, Circuit Judges.
Plaintiff appeals from judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Thomas C. Platt, Jr., Judge, filed July 18, 1983, granting the Secretary's motion for judgment on the pleadings and dismissing the complaint.
Plaintiff Bluvband is a 52-year-old female who lives with her husband and two grown children in a two-bedroom apartment in Forest Hills, New York. Bluvband was born in Russia, where she graduated from college with a degree in library studies and worked as a librarian until 1970. In 1974, Bluvband emigrated to the United States. From January to September, 1975, she worked as an order picker and assembler in Jacksonville, Florida, for a plumbing company. Beginning in February, 1977, she worked as a quality control inspector. In May, 1978, she moved to New York, where she began working as a housekeeper at Hillside Manor, a nursing home located in Jamaica, New York.
Starting in October, 1979, she was hospitalized for three months due to hypoglycemia. Because of her severe low blood sugar level, half of her pancreas was removed. Her gall bladder and spleen were also taken out. Unfortunately, these surgeries, in the words of her treating physician, Dr. Nash, were "followed by a variety of serious complications including infection of the peritoneum with localized abscesses which in turn led to perforation of the intestines." These complications required her doctors to perform a colostomy. According to her treating physician, Bluvband developed large hernias after the colostomy was closed in March, 1980.
The removal of half of her pancreas apparently did not correct the hypoglycemia. As the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) noted in his decision, "the surgeries were unable to correct a chronic low blood sugar reportedly due to residioblastosis [sic] and diffused proliferation of islet cells of the pancreas." To combat her low blood sugar level, she continued to take Diazoxide (Proglycem) and to eat every two or three hours. The medicine and the prescribed constant eating in turn caused her to gain a considerable amount of weight (she testified at the disability hearing that her weight had risen from 155 pounds to 179 pounds). The increased weight contributed to her hernias and further affected her mobility.
Bluvband was hospitalized again on March 5, 1981, for repair of one of her hernias. The attending physician, Dr. Hadda, stated that Bluvband had an "established diagnosis of nesidioblastoma, [and] blood sugar running usually between 50 and 80." He noted her "blood sugar on admission 59-the other factors in SMA-12 were all within normal." He also stated that Bluvband's recovery from the hernia operation "was smooth with the exception of a marked allergic reaction to adhesive tape." According to Dr. Hadda, on March 14, 1981, Bluvband "was discharged home fully ambulatory."
On May 13, 1981, Bluvband applied for social security supplemental security income based on her inability to work since October, 1979, due to hypoglycemia and hernias. She stated in her application that she was taking antibiotics and that she had to eat six times each day to keep her blood sugar level up. She also asserted that she could not perform any recreational activities other than walking her dog and that Dr. Hadda had told her not to work. She stated that she could do light housework but could not carry bags from the supermarket or exert herself in any other way.
On June 30, 1981, Dr. Strassberg, a specialist in internal medicine, examined Bluvband on behalf of the Secretary. He noted her history of hypoglycemia and the related surgery. He confirmed that she continued to suffer from a hernia, noted that her weight continued to increase, and reported that she complained of pain. His report did not comment, however, on the conclusions of Dr. Nash and Dr. Hadda that Bluvband suffered from nesidioblastosis, an organic type of hypoglycemia.
In his evaluation of Bluvband's residual functional capacity, Dr. Strassberg concluded that Bluvband could sit six hours, stand four hours, and walk four hours in an eight-hour day. He also noted that she could lift and carry up to twenty pounds and could bend, squat, crawl and climb occasionally. He added that she could use her hands for repetitive grasping, pushing, pulling and fine manipulations. He also noted that she did not exhibit any mental disorders or sensory, environmental or other limitations.
The Secretary initially denied Bluvband's claim for benefits in July, 1981. On August 13, 1981, Bluvband filed a request for reconsideration. She reasserted that she had hypoglycemia, low blood sugar and a post-operative hernia and that she had to take medicine and eat six times a day. She added that she suffered from loss of memory and blackouts. In her reconsideration disability report, she stated the following:
The condition is basically the same if I keep to medication & diet. Otherwise, it gets out of control.
I can't do any physical work due to hernia which is the 3rd one and also due to hypoglycemia. I get tired very fast. It ...