lifting fifty pounds; frequently lifting twenty-five pounds; standing or walking for a total of six hours in an eight hour day; sitting for about six hours in an eight hour day; and pushing and pulling unlimited. (Tr. 77). In addition, the plaintiff may occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. (Tr. 78). These physical capabilities are consistent with the ability to perform medium work. See §§ 404.1567(c), 416.967(c).
On August 16, 1994, an MRI of the plaintiff's spine revealed mild disc bulging at the C5-6 and C6-7 interspaces with a mild herniated cerebellar tonsil below the posterior lip of the foramen magnum. (Tr. 17). Additionally, in September 1994, the plaintiff underwent an electromyography of the right upper extremities, which resulted in mild abnormal findings. (Tr. 16). Plaintiff's examining physician, Dr. Jeffrey J. Burdick ("Burdick"), stated that there was evidence of a mild acute and chronic denervation change in the muscles innervated by the C8-T1 nerve root. (Tr. 16). However, he further stated that there was no evidence of nerve entrapment or neuropathy in the right upper extremity. (Tr. 16). Contrary to plaintiff's protestations, the MRI and the electromyography do not demonstrate that the plaintiff is disabled. In fact, they are not substantially inconsistent with the remaining medical evidence contained in the record.
Consequently, there is substantial evidence in the record to support the ALJ's determination that the plaintiff is capable of performing medium work which includes her past relevant work.
The ALJ considered the plaintiff's subjective claims of pain as required by 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529, 416.929. The plaintiff complained that she experiences headaches including pain in her back, shoulders, elbows, ankles, right leg, and arms. (Tr. 26, 41). She further testified that she cannot stand or sit for long periods of time. (Tr. 49). However, the ALJ found these complaints to be exaggerated, and therefore, concluded that she was not reliable in reporting her symptoms. (Tr. 26).
The ALJ relies upon inconsistencies among the medical evidence, the plaintiff's subjective complaints of pain, and her ability to perform numerous activities. As stated above, the medical evidence does not support plaintiff's claim that she is disabled and incapable of performing substantial gainful activity. Also, the evidence demonstrates that the plaintiff leads an active life, participating in teaching, book writing, letter writing, socializing, and traveling. (Tr. 26). These two factors lead the Court to the conclusion that there are legitimate reasons to support the ALJ's rejection of the plaintiff's subjective complaints of pain.
The plaintiff testified that she is capable of driving, doing her own housework,
and grocery shopping. (Tr. 48, 49). In fact, she stated that she can lift fairly well when she is able to get her hands underneath an object. (Tr. 49). While she stated that she could not sit or stand for long periods of time, the record establishes that she is not under the regular care of a physician or using pain medication on a consistent basis. (Tr. 46). Likewise, she testified that she maintains the manual dexterity to operate an automobile and develop her own photography pictures. (Tr. 48, 52).
She also testified that she remains active with her church, volunteering her time to participate in the writing of the church's sesquicentennial history. In addition, she belongs to various historical societies including the Capital District Humanist Society and the Henry David Thoreau Society. (Tr. 50, 51). As a member of the Thoreau Society, she travels to Concord, Massachusetts, every year for the annual meeting. (Tr. 51). Moreover, in March 1994, in a letter written by the plaintiff, she indicated that she continued to be active in Adult Education classes, preparing several presentations for the class. (Tr. 18).
The plaintiff's ability to actively participate in numerous activities despite the alleged debilitating pain, contradicts her subjective complaints of pain. The ALJ's determination that plaintiff exaggerated her subjective complaints of pain is supported by substantial evidence.
Accordingly, it is
ORDERED that the decision denying the plaintiff disability benefits pursuant to Title II and Title XVI of the Act is AFFIRMED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
David N. Hurd
United States Magistrate Judge
Dated: May 20, 1997
Utica, New York.