The opinion of the court was delivered by: CARTER
This is an action brought by plaintiff under § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to review a final determination of the Secretary of Health and Human Services denying plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits.
Plaintiff Rosita Pagan filed an application for benefits on September 16, 1982, based on disability because of diabetes, hypertension, phlebitis and arteriosclerosis. She alleged an onset date of April 29, 1982. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. A hearing was held on May 23, 1983, and on June 15, 1983, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that the plaintiff was not disabled. The plaintiff then submitted additional medical evidence to the Appeals Council, which considered the new evidence, but adopted the decision of the ALJ as the Secretary's final determination.
Pagan was born on July 26, 1923, and was fifty-nine years old at the time of her hearing. She has a seventh grade education, obtained in Puerto Rico, and is illiterate in English. Her past relevant work is that of a laborer in the electronics factory, where she worked for twenty-eight years before the onset of her alleged disability. Her job was to assemble pieces of electronic components, using an electric machine. According to Pagan, the job required her to sit for all eight hours of the working day. (Tr. 77).
The medical evidence in the record may be summarized as follows:
On April 29, 1982, Pagan became ill at work, and was taken to Prospect Hospital where she was admitted complaining of chills, fever, and generalized aches and pains. (Tr. 8, 33, 90). The hospital report shows a two to three-year history of diabetes and a six-year history of hypertension for which she takes the drugs diabinese and aldomet. The report also notes a history of thrombophlebitis (development of solid masses of blood constituents in the veins, causing inflammation) of the right leg, with intermittent edema, though with good pulsation bilaterally. (Tr. 90). Pagan was treated with bed rest, aldomet and insulin, and discharged ten days later. Upon discharge, the attending physician, Dr. Manuel Vazquez, diagnosed viremia (presence of a virus in the bloodstream), diabetes, hypertensive arteriosclerosis, and chronic deep thrombophlebitis. (Id.).
By letter dated September 10, 1982, Dr. Vazquez stated that he had been treating Pagan since December, 1978, for diabetes, arteriosclerosis, hypertension and phlebitis of the right leg. Dr. Vazquez said that plaintiff's "condition had been intermittently worse requiring hospitalization on several occasions[,]" and opined that she was "in no condition to work." (Tr. 92).
Dr. Vazquez submitted additional medical reports on February 4, 1983 (Tr. 100), May 17, 1983 (Tr. 107), and July 23, 1983 (Tr. 7), indicating that pagan continued to suffer from diabetes, hypertensive arteriosclerosis, and phlebitis of the right leg. Dr. Vazquez assessed Pagan as physically capable of occasionally lifting or carrying up to twenty-five pounds, and able to perform finger and hand manipulations without limitation. He found her able to sit for four hours and to stand or walk for two hours each during the course of an eight-hour day, but he added that she could sit, stand, or walk for only one hour at a time. In the margin of the reporting form, Dr. Vazquez noted that Pagan's "capacity changes with her symptoms[,]" and at the bottom of the page he stated that her "condition is intermittently worse. At time she is completely disabled." (Tr. 7).
At the government's request, Pagan was examined by Dr. S. Anand on November 16, 1982. Pagan complained of headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, and arthritis. The physical examination was normal in most respects. However, there was plus-two pedal edema
without cyanosis, clubbing or varicose veins, and pain on bending of the knees. (Tr. 94). In addition, x-rays of Pagan's chest showed enlargement of the heart and minimal uncoiling of the aorta. (Tr. 96). The impression of the radiologist, Dr. H. Rabiner, was cardiomegaly. (Id.). Dr. Anand diagnosed plaintiff as suffering from diabetes, hypertension, arthritis and chest pain not secondary to atherosclerotic heart disease. (Tr. 95).
Dr. Robert Small, a board-certified internist, examined plaintiff on August 3, 1983, at the request of plaintiff's counsel. Plaintiff complained of chest congestion, shortness of breath and an inability to climb stairs. (Tr. 8). The physical examination was unremarkable except for blood pressure of 160/102 and edema of both legs. (Id.). Dr. Small found that plaintiff was suffering from chronic painful phlebitis of both legs, which rendered her "permanently and totally disabled from any gainful employment of any type[,]" complicated by diabetes and severe high blood pressure. (Id.).
At the hearing, Pagan testified that she lives with her husband in a second-story walk-up apartment in the Bronx, New York. (Tr. 37-38). Her daily activities include doing the household cooking, dusting furniture, making the beds, doing the dishes and watching television. (Id.). Her husband helps her with the shopping and cleaning (Tr. 37). Plaintiff lies down and elevates her leg two or three times a day for one or two hours at a time (Tr. 35, 39). she socializes with friends and relatives who occasionally come to visit (Tr. 40).
Pagan testified that her leg is swollen and painful (Tr. 34) and that she suffers constant pain in her back (Tr. 36-37), and pain in her chest when her blood pressure rises, which happens "[a]lmost all the time[, o]n a monthly basis." (Tr. 35). She said she cannot take buses or subways because she has difficulty standing and walking. She estimated that she can stand for less than half an hour (Tr. 35) and can sit for up to one hour (Tr. 36). She said that she climbs the stairs to her apartment about three times a day. (Tr. 38).
In his decision, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff's impairments did not prevent her from returning to her past relevant work as an assembler, and therefore that plaintiff was not disabled under the terms of the Social Security Act. Specifically, the ALJ found that thought Pagan suffered from severe hypertension, there was no evidence of ...