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WELCH v. CHATER

April 22, 1996

MARCIA WELCH, Plaintiff,
v.
SHIRLEY S. CHATER, Commissioner of Social Security, 1 Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LARIMER

 INTRODUCTION

 This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security that plaintiff is not disabled and, therefore, is not entitled to disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits.

 This Court finds that the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and accordingly reverses and remands for further evidentiary proceedings.

 PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits on December 24, 1992 and for disability insurance benefits on January 8, 1993. (R. 83-86, 54-57.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. (R. 58-61, 79-82, 87-91.) Plaintiff then requested a hearing. (R. 29.)

 On May 25, 1994, plaintiff appeared pro se before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), who considered the case de novo and concluded, in a written decision dated July 7, 1994, that although plaintiff had severe impairments, she retained the ability to perform her past relevant work and, therefore, was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (R. 12-18.)

 The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on November 2, 1994, when the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (R. 5-6.) Plaintiff commenced the instant action on December 9, 1994.

 The Commissioner now moves, and plaintiff cross-moves, for judgment on the pleadings, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(f).

 Plaintiff, Marcia Welch, is a forty-three year old female, with a long history of alcohol abuse and depression. (R. 54, 116.) She attended high school through the twelfth grade, but did not graduate; she later received her G.E.D. (R. 41-42.)

 Plaintiff has worked at various jobs throughout her adult life. (R. 101.) Most recently, she was employed as a cleaner for the Webster School District for a period of two years. (R. 40.) Plaintiff alleges, however, that in February 1992, she became very fatigued, "collapsed," and could not continue to work. (R. 41.) In February 1993, plaintiff returned to work. (R. 41.) However, after working for approximately five or six months, she again "collapsed" from mental exhaustion. (R. 41, 115.) Plaintiff alleges that she has been disabled since February 7, 1992, as a result of depression, fatigue, and alcohol dependency. (R. 44.) Plaintiff also maintains that irrational behaviors, such as loss of temper and excessive crying, prevent her from returning to work. (R. 46.)

 Plaintiff has had a chronic alcohol problem since age twelve or thirteen. (R. 39, 114.) She describes herself as a "binge drinker." (R. 39.) Consequently, her life is plagued with episodes of heavy drinking followed by periods of abstinence. Generally, plaintiff is able to abstain from alcohol for periods of six months, and sometimes, for as long as a year. (R. 39.) Plaintiff then will go on a binge which can last anywhere from three weeks to three months. (R. 39.)

 Plaintiff became sober in 1989 and maintained sobriety for three and one-half years. (R. 172.) Shortly after her claimed onset date of disability, she began to drink again and continued to drink for several months. (R. 187.) Plaintiff ...


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