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SANCHEZ v. CHATER

May 13, 1997

ANA SANCHEZ, Plaintiff, against SHIRLEY S. CHATER, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, 1 Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: SPRIZZO

 SPRIZZO, D.J.:

 Plaintiff Ana Sanchez brings the instant action challenging a decision of defendant Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner") denying her applications for widow's insurance benefits, social security disability benefits, and supplemental security income benefits. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c), Sanchez and the Commissioner cross-move for judgment on the pleadings. For the reasons set forth below, Sanchez's motion is denied and the Commissioner's motion is granted.

 BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Ana Sanchez was born on May 29, 1942, in the Dominican Republic where she met and married her late husband, Manuel Ventura. See Transcript of Administrative Record ("Tr.") at 28, 161-162. Together, they moved to Puerto Rico on January 15, 1967, where Sanchez worked as a tailor and textile machine operator for several different employers. Tr. at 28, 115. Sanchez's work required standing for half the workday and sitting for half the workday. Tr. at 33-34. Sanchez switched jobs on a number of occasions due to pain in her right leg, and in 1985, she stopped working entirely. Tr. at 33, 35, 53, 115. On October 24, 1987, Sanchez's husband died. Tr. at 156-60. Sanchez subsequently moved to New York where she currently shares a private home in the Bronx with her daughter. Tr. at 28-29. Sanchez's formal education ended with the completion of the fifth grade in Santa Domingo. Tr. at 31. Sanchez speaks Spanish only. Tr. at 27.

 In September 1987, while living in Puerto Rico, Sanchez visited Dr. Salvador Oviedo complaining of pain and discomfort in her left knee, neck and abdomen. Tr. at 169-70. Dr. Oviedo diagnosed her as suffering from a cervical strain and allergic rhinitis. *fn2" Id.

 After moving to Bronx, New York, Sanchez became a patient at Our Lady of Mercy Medical Center ("OLMMC"). Tr. at 119-155. On August 20, 1991, she was treated at OLMMC by Dr. Vinod M. Nair for complaints of chest pain radiating to her back, neck and both arms. Tr. at 120. She also complained of a sore throat and rhinitis which had lasted for three days. Id. Dr. Nair diagnosed Sanchez with atypical chest pain and bronchitis, provided her with Motrin, and prescribed antibiotics. Tr. at 121.

 On December 27, 1991, Sanchez went to the medical clinic at OLMMC complaining of chest pain on her right side, and itching. Tr. at 135. The attending physician told Sanchez to take Ibuprofen three times a day and to make appointments with the orthopedic and dermatology clinics. Id. Sanchez failed to appear at the orthopedic clinic on January 15, 1992, and at the medical clinic on January 24, 1992. Tr. at 136. She did appear at the dermatology clinic on March 16, 1992, where she was treated for itching. Tr. at 138.

 On April 2, 1992, Sanchez saw Dr. Robert M. Gross at the orthopedic clinic at OLMMC reporting joint pain in both knees and ankles, left shoulder, elbow and wrist, which had existed for about seven years and worsened later in the day. Tr. at 137. She also reported neck pain and episodes of knee and ankle swelling. Id. Upon examination, Dr. Gross noted some limitation in Sanchez's shoulder in raising her arms above her head, and swelling of her right knee. Id. Dr. Gross noted in his report possible rheumatoid arthritis, rule-out osteoarthritis. Id. Dr. Gross ordered x-rays and lab tests to be taken. Id.

 On April 6, 1992, x-rays were performed which revealed degeneration of the right knee, but no joint effusion, fracture or dislocation. Tr. at 151. The radiologist, Dr. Jonathan Davis, noted on his report moderate osteophyte formation arising from the medial and lateral tibial spines, and sclerosis and joint space narrowing involving the medial aspect of the femoral tibial joint space. Id. Sanchez's shoulder was also x-rayed and diagnosed as normal. Id.

 On April 9, 1992, Sanchez again went to the orthopedic clinic at OLMMC complaining of dizziness and sharp upper chest pain radiating to her arm and back. Tr. at 139. Dr. Gross sent her to the emergency room and also referred her to the rheumatology clinic. Id. In the emergency room, Dr. Jakone treated Sanchez and reported, as his initial clinical impression, atypical chest pain and dizziness. Tr. at 132. X-rays of her chest were normal for her age. Tr. at 149. Lab tests results were negative for rheumatoid factor and positive for anti-nuclear antibodies ("ANA"). *fn3" Tr. at 125. Sanchez was found to have a sedimentation rate of 22 mm/hr. *fn4" Id. Upon discharge the principal diagnosis was possible iron deficiency anemia. Tr. at 133. Sanchez was instructed to make an appointment with the gynecology clinic and to report to the medical clinic for a follow-up. Tr. at 133.

 On August 7, 1992, Sanchez reported to the medical clinic at OLMMC for her follow-up visit. The notes refer to several medical conditions and different clinics, but it is unclear whether they are summarizing past treatments or recommending future treatment. Tr. at 140-41.

 On October 23, 1992, Sanchez was described by the attending physician at the OLMMC medical clinic as having a history of hypertension, although she was not on any medication for that condition, and vague pain throughout her body. Tr. at 141. Sanchez was instructed to make an appointment with the gynecology clinic and to return after one month. Id.

 On November 20, 1992, Sanchez was seen at the OLMMC medical clinic for complaints of chest pain and weakness. Tr. at 123. The attending physician diagnosed her with arthritis and generalized weakness. Tr. at 124. She was told by the doctor to follow-up at the arthritis clinic and to continue taking Motrin for the ...


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