The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nickerson, District Judge.
Plaintiff's present application for benefits was made on
February 26, 1988 and claimed disability commencing January 30,
1986 due to back trouble and hypertension. The Administrative
Law Judge found plaintiff not disabled, and the Appeals Council
affirmed. This action followed.
The Administrative Law Judge made the following formal
Plaintiff met and continues to meet the special earnings
requirements. She has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since January 30, 1986. The medical evidence
establishes that she has low back syndrome with radiculitis,
possible herniated disc, and essential hypertension, but does
not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed in,
or medically equal to one listed in, the regulations. Her
complaints of severe, constant, debilitating back pain are
neither credible nor persuasive. Although unable to perform her
past relevant work as a home attendant, she has the residual
functional capacity for light work, that is, to perform the
physical exertion requirements of work except for lifting and
carrying over 20 pounds or frequent bending. She, 51 years old,
has a high school education, and thus the issue of
transferability of work skills is not material. The regulations
direct a conclusion that considering plaintiff's residual
functional capacity, age, education, and work experience, she
was not disabled.
Plaintiff was treated by several doctors over a considerable
period of time.
Plaintiff came under the care of Dr. Theodore Brescia, a
chiropractor, on March 19, 1987. He in turn referred her to Dr.
Mohammed K. Nour, an orthopedic surgeon, who treated her from
June 9, 1987 to January 28, 1988. He diagnosed a chronic
cervical radiculopathy and chronic lumbosacral syndrome, and
suggested chiropractic treatment.
Dr. Brescia then continued the treatment. He made a detailed
report on January 14, 1989. It contains a description of
plaintiff's medical history, the doctor's examinations, the
x-ray, EMG, CAT scan and orthopedic examinations, as well as
Dr. Brescia's treatment and prognosis. In substance the report
states the following.
On January 15, 1986 plaintiff, then 46 years old and working
as a home attendant, turned a heavy patient in bed and felt a
severe pain in her neck and lower back. As the days continued
the pain became increasingly more severe, radiating down the
right arm and down both legs so that she had to discontinue
work. She saw several doctors at Long Island Hospital and New
York Hospital, and as the pain became increasingly more severe
she came on March 19, 1987 to Dr. Brescia for a chiropractic
examination and treatment.
She complained of low back pain, with frequent headaches and
tension, even exhibiting an expression of pain on her face. She
had to alternate between sitting and standing positions due to
the pain. She stood in an antalgic position of forward flexion
with limping gait, favoring her right leg and walking very
slowly. She had great difficulty getting prone on the
examination table. The musculature of the cervical and lumbar
spine was in a marked spasm, both visible and palpable.
The range of motion of the cervical spine, normal flexion
extension, was 15 degrees, lateral bending right 15 degrees,
left 25 degrees. There was slight hyposthesia over C7 dermatone
on the right. The Lasegue test was positive, and the straight
leg raising test was restricted on the right, in the sitting
position at 40 percent on the right and 70 percent on the left.
In the supine position straight leg raising was 50 percent on
the right and 70 percent on the left. The Lasegue sign was
positive on the right at 20 degrees and on the left at 10
She was unable to do any bending, kneeling, or crawling, and
was unable to walk on her heels or toes. There was always a
sensation of pins and needles down the lower extremity into the
toes. She was unable to carry weight of more than 10 pounds and
was in severe pain going up and down stairs. Deep and
superficial tests with pinwheel and brush revealed loss of
sensory perception along the C4-C7 dermatones down the right
arm into the ring and small finger. There was a loss of sensory
perception along the L5-S1 dermatones down the right leg into
Motor strength of the right leg was about two-fifths. Finger
pressure over the area C4-C7 and L1-S1 produced severe pain in
the cervical and lumbar spine within increasing pain down the
right arm into the ring ...