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RODRIGUEZ v. HECKLER

October 15, 1985

AUREA RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
MARGARET M. HECKLER, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: STEWART

MEMORANDUM DECISION

STEWART, District Judge:

 Plaintiff Aurea Rodriguez brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c) seeking review of a final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("the Secretary") denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. Before us are cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons stated, the determination of the Secretary is reversed, and the case is remanded.

 Factual Background

 Rodriguez was born in Puerto Rico in 1938. She has a sixth-grade education, and her ability to communicate in English is limited. A divorced mother of several children, Rodriguez has never worked. She lives alone in a second-floor walk-up apartment and is assisted by a housekeeper three times a week (Tr. 19-23, 27).

 In recent years, Rodriguez has been treated for diabetes, osteomyelitis (inflammation of bone caused by infection), arthralgia (pain in a joint), asthma, and depression. Since 1981, she has been hospitalized at least four times, three of those times for periods of a month or more (Tr. 82, 92, 109, 121). In 1983, her left great toe was amputated (Tr. 128).

 At hear hearing before Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Kohlman ("the ALJ") on December 16, 1983, plaintiff testified that she spends most of the day lying down, experiences pain after sitting for fifteen minutes, and requires a cane to stand or walk. Rodriguez said she can stand for five minutes and can walk only two blocks. However, plaintiff also stated that the pain is controlled by medication, and that she is able to leave her apartment three times a day to take short walks, shop, and visit friends. She also does some cooking and housework when her housekeeper is not there (Tr. 26-29).

 Rodriguez submitted reports from three treating physicians at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center. Dr. S. Rose stated that Rodriguez suffers from diabetes, arthralgia, and depression (Tr. 128). Dr. Doen verified that plaintiff has diabetes mellitis, which resulted in amputation of her toe, and has an indolent plantar ulcer on her left foot (Tr. 129).

 Dr. G. Raskin was plaintiff's only treating physician to report on plaintiff's medical condition and physical capabilities in detail. He reported diabetes, arthralgia, and depression. Dr. Raskin stated that Rodriguez's diabetes is controlled by diet alone, but complications from diabetes have included recurrent foot infections, osteomyelitis, and amputation of a toe. He noted that plaintiff has "frequent pain in both ankles and feet." Dr. Raskin also indicated that Rodriguez has suffered from depression for many years and experiences feelings of "isolation, fear, and sadness" as well as "suicidal ideation." He added that she was to begin seeing a psychologist (Tr. 130-33).

 In his assessment of Rodriguez's physical abilities, Dr. Raskin found plaintiff "fully able" to sit, but with "very limited" ability to stand and walk, requiring the use of a cane for balance and support. He also concluded that her ability to lift is "limited" due to "general fatigue [and] arthralgia." While bending, pushing, and pulling are "difficult" for plaintiff, she can handle objects and see, hear, and speak without limitation (Tr. 134-35).

 The medical record also includes reports from several consulting physicians. Dr. H. Glucksberg diagnosed status post fracture and osteomyelitis of the left foot. He observed that Rodriguez limps and cannot apply pressure to her left foot. He added, "she has constant pain now and has to . . . use a cane to walk and even that is painful" (Tr. 104). In his residual functional capacity evaluation, Dr. Glucksberg concluded that plaintiff can sit for eight hours, occasionally lift up to ten pounds, occasionally bend or squat, and repeatedly use her hands for fine manipulations. However, she can neither stand nor walk at all during an eight-hour day, nor can she carry even light items (Tr. 106-07).

 Plaintiff's second consultative examination was performed by Dr. J. Parrinello. Dr. Parrinello's diagnostic impression was a history of chronic osteomyelitis involving the left foot, status post healed fracture, chronic lymphedema involving the left foot and leg, and a history of bronchial asthma (Tr. 110-11).

 Following Dr. Parrinello's report, review physician Dr. Kovary evaluated plaintiff's residual functional capacity. He found that plaintiff can sit about six hours per day and can occasionally stoop, kneel, crawl, and lift or carry less than ten pounds. Her ability to reach, handle, finger, feel, see, hear, and speak is unlimited. He concluded, however, that she can ...


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