and varicose veins, the absence of all but the most conservative medical treatment, and Pena's unimpaired ability to carry out daily activities. See Tr. at 24-25. Clearly, Pena's own testimony regarding his lifestyle and daily activities provides more than adequate support for the finding that Pena is capable of performing gainful activity. See Tr. at 43-45 (washing, dressing, eating, mopping the floor, taking out garbage, travels to the park, plays billiards); id. at 97 (laundry, cooking); id at 86, 97, 103 (watches television, listens to radio, reads); id. at 140 (takes long walks with friends, enjoys conversing); id. 184 (pays monthly bills, plays dominoes, swims, converses with friends); id. at 38, 133, 170 (travels about the city on his own).
ALJ Goldman properly attributed significance to Pena's failure to undergo sustained treatment, the lack of which seriously undermines his contention that he was continuously disabled during the relevant time periods. See Arnone, 882 F.2d at 39. Furthermore, the Court accords deference to ALJ Goldman's evaluation since he heard Pena's testimony first-hand and observed his demeanor.
Mejias v. Social Security Administration, 445 F. Supp. 741, 744 (S.D.N.Y. 1978).
Pena argues that the Commissioner's decision is unsupported by substantial evidence because ALJ Goldman failed to detail his reasons for crediting certain evidence and discrediting other evidence in reaching his decision. While the ALJ must clearly set forth the essential considerations with sufficient specificity to enable the reviewing court to decide whether the determination is supported by substantial evidence, see White, 910 F.2d at 65; Ferraris v. Heckler, 728 F.2d 582, 586 (2d Cir. 1984), he need not "explicitly reconcile every conflicting shred of medical testimony." Monguer, 722 F.2d at 1040 (citing Miles, 645 F.2d 122 at 124). Clearly, ALJ Goldman was not required to mention every item of testimony presented to him nor explain why he considered particular evidence unpersuasive or insufficient to lead him to a conclusion of disability.
See Monguer, 722 F.2d at 1040.
Pena contends that the Court cannot affirm ALJ Goldman's decision merely because there exists substantial evidence to support a finding of disability where there also exists substantial evidence in the record that would support a finding that Pena is disabled. However, the Second Circuit has squarely held that where a district court finds that there is substantial evidence supporting the Commissioner's decision, that decision must be upheld, even if there exists substantial evidence to support the plaintiff's position. See Alston, 904 F.2d at 126; accord Schauer, 675 F.2d at 57.
II. ALCOHOL DEPENDENCY
Pena also argues that ALJ Goldman erred in failing to find that Pena has an alcohol dependency disorder, which would result in a finding of disability. Regarding a claimant's history of alcohol abuse and its effect on his ability to work, the Commissioner must determine whether the claimant has lost the ability to voluntarily control his drinking where there is a "continuing interrelationship between the excess consumption of alcohol and the disability, such that termination of the former will end the latter. . . ." See Rutherford, 685 F.2d at 62 (citing Adams v. Weinberger, 548 F.2d 239, 244 (8th Cir. 1977)). While chronic alcoholism can be disabling if it results in a serious personality disorder or in a substantial physical impairment, see Rutherford, 685 F.2d at 62, in the instant case there is nothing on the record that would support a finding that Pena is suffering from "chronic alcoholism," or that there exists a "continuing interrelationship" between Pena's drinking and any alleged disability.
Clearly, Pena's medical records and own testimony support a finding that Pena neither suffers from a serious personality disorder nor a substantial physical impairment resulting from his alcohol abuse. Dr. Rubin, an independent, attending physician at St. Barnabas' detoxification program, found that Pena was able to perform daily activities. See Tr. at 118. Consultative physician Dr. Graham found Pena able to "perform physical activities such as: sitting, standing, walking, lifting, carrying, handling objects, hearing, speaking and travelling." Id. at 133. Consultative psychiatrist Dr. Zeiguer twice found Pena to be sufficiently in control of his drinking habit to manage his own funds, perform "at least simple repetitive chores . . . [and] relate to peers, supervisors, and tasks without disrupting the work setting." Id. at 141, 185. Although consultative physician Dr. Seidman believed that Pena was limited from "extensive standing, walking, pushing, [and] pulling left leg controls," see Tr. at 170, he concluded that Pena was not limited in sitting, handling objects, hearing, speaking or travelling. Id. at 170. Furthermore, Pena testified before ALJ Goldman that he picks up cans, begs, performs menial janitorial tasks, and goes to the park, beach and billiard hall. Id. at 45. Moreover, Pena has maintained the ability to control his drinking since he voluntarily admitted himself for detoxification treatment, id. at 122, and he admits that he abstains from alcohol when he is without funds, id. at 39, or when he is not nervous. Id.
ALJ Goldman specifically found that, according to the medical evidence of record, Pena's long history of alcoholism has not caused any significant organic complications, see Tr. at 23, including any related, serious end organ damage. Id. at 25. ALJ Goldman noted that Pena's "presentation at the clinical examinations and at the hearing does not reveal such a deterioration that would prevent him from working." Id. In light of the overwhelming medical and testimonial evidence supporting the Commissioner's decision, the Court finds that ALJ Goldman need not have explicitly stated on the record whether or not Pena has lost his ability to voluntarily control his drinking.
III. VOCATIONAL EXPERT
Pena contends that ALJ Goldman erred in failing to employ a vocational expert to determine whether the psychological effects of his alcohol abuse limit the types of "medium," "light" and "sedentary work" that he is capable of performing. However, this contention must fail since the Commissioner may either take administrative notice of job data from various governmental publications, such as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT"), or rely on the testimony of a vocational expert in order to establish that work existed in the national economy. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.966(d), (e). See also Bapp v. Bowen, 802 F.2d 601, 603 (2d Cir. 1986) ("We believe that the mere existence of a nonexertional impairment does not automatically require the production of a vocational expert nor preclude reliance on the guidelines . . . [the] Secretary must introduce the testimony of a vocational expert (or other similar evidence) that jobs exist in the economy which claimant can obtain and perform"); McLamore v. Weinberger, 538 F.2d 572, 575 (4th Cir. 1976). Therefore, ALJ Goldman need not have utilized a vocational expert in evaluating Pena's ability to work.
IV. MEDICAL VOCATIONAL GUIDELINES
Where a claimant suffers solely from an exertional impairment, the Commissioner may utilize the medical vocational guidelines in determining whether or not the claimant has a disability. These guidelines analyze various vocational factors in conjunction with residual functional capacity, resulting in a finding of "disabled" or "not disabled." See 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpt. P, App. 2 § 200.00(e)(1)(2). However, where, as here, the claimant suffers from a nonexertional impairment alone, or in conjunction with an exertional impairment which "significantly diminishes" the range of work permitted by his exertional limitations, the guidelines are not conclusive and "full consideration must be given to all of the relevant facts in the case in accordance with the definitions and discussions of each factor in the appropriate sections of the regulations. . . ." Id.; see also Bapp, 802 F.2d at 605; Tucker v. Heckler, 776 F.2d 793, 796 (8th Cir. 1985); Francis v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 1562, 1566 (11th Cir. 1985); Blacknall v. Heckler, 721 F.2d 1179, 1181 (9th Cir. 1983); Smith v. Schweiker, 719 F.2d 723, 725 (4th Cir. 1984); Hernandez v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 857, 863 (5th Cir. 1983). Since ALJ Goldman found that Pena has no exertional limits, see Tr. at 27 P 4, and that Pena's nonexertional limitations did not significantly compromise his ability to perform work at all exertional levels, id. at P 9 [sic], the guidelines are not conclusive with respect to Pena's ability to work. Therefore, Pena's argument that he is entitled to SSI disability benefits under Vocational Rule 202.09 must fail.
For the reasons set forth above, the Clerk of Court is directed to grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings and to dismiss the plaintiff's action.
It is SO ORDERED.
DATED: New York, New York
June 30, 1997
John E. Sprizzo
United States District Judge