In his decision dated October 6, 1994, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work and that she could therefore return to her past work as a sewing machine operator. Tr. 9-15. The ALJ acknowledged that plaintiff had back problems but determined that she could still return to work as sewing machine operator. The ALJ noted that her work as a sewing machine operator required no lifting or carrying and that the job would be sedentary except for the need to use foot controls to operate the machine. The ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled due to her hypertension, noting that it was adequately controlled by medication and that plaintiff did not attribute any symptoms to it during her testimony.
In reviewing the Commissioner's determination that a claimant is not disabled, a district court "may only set aside a determination which is based on legal error or not supported by substantial evidence." Berry v. Schweiker, 675 F.2d 464, 467 (2d Cir. 1982). Substantial evidence "is more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 1427, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971) (citation omitted). Having reviewed the entire record in this case, the Court finds that the Commissioner's decision was not based on legal error and is supported by substantial evidence.
The Court notes that the record contains references to various conditions from which plaintiff allegedly suffered, including anxiety disorder, arthritis, alcohol abuse, asthma, back pain, and hypertension. At the hearing, the ALJ asked plaintiff what problems she was having, and plaintiff responded that she had back pain that radiated down her right leg. Tr. 25. Plaintiff did not describe, or even mention, any other disabling conditions during her testimony. Accordingly, the Court finds that the ALJ therefore properly focused his analysis on plaintiff's back condition.
Based on the treating and consultative physicians' reports and the x-rays and CT scan in the record, it is clear that plaintiff has degenerative disc disease. Notwithstanding this impairment, the medical evidence in the record does not demonstrate that plaintiff cannot return to work as a sewing machine operator. Indeed, no doctor, treating or consultative, found that plaintiff was disabled because of her back condition. See Dumas v. Schweiker, 712 F.2d 1545, 1553 (2d Cir. 1983) (recognizing that the Commissioner "is entitled to rely not only on what the record says, but also what it does not say").
The medical evidence in this case supports the ALJ's determination that plaintiff's back problem does not prevent her from returning to work as a sewing machine operator. Dr. Hwang, a consultative physician, found that plaintiff's back pain only imposed mild limitations on walking, climbing, carrying, pushing, and pulling and that it imposed no limitations on sitting. Dr. Mescon, another consultative physician, concluded that plaintiff's ability to sit and stand would not be affected by her back condition but that her ability to climb, push, pull or carry heavy objects would be limited. Dr. Shaw, a treating physician, diagnosed plaintiff with low back pain, recommended physical therapy, and prescribed Naprosyn. Dr. Katz, an orthopedist, reviewed plaintiff's medical records and concurred with the examining doctors' diagnoses of degenerative disc disease. In addition, Dr. Shaw opined that plaintiff could sit for most of the day with several breaks and that she should avoid stooping, kneeling, climbing, or bending. In sum, the medical evidence clearly supports the ALJ's determination that plaintiff could return to work as a sewing machine operator.
For the foregoing reasons, the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted. The Clerk of the Court is directed to close this case.
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
July 2, 1996
RAYMOND J. DEARIE
United States District Judge
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