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SINGLETARY v. APFEL

November 10, 1997

SYLVESTER SINGLETARY, Plaintiff,
v.
KENNETH APFEL, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,1 Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LARIMER

 INTRODUCTION

 This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 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. This Court finds that the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and accordingly remands the case solely for the calculation of benefits.

 PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

 Plaintiff Sylvester M. Singletary ("Singletary") was born on December 7, 1946. (T. 53). *fn2" On September 19, 1994, Singletary applied for Social Security disability benefits. (T. 53- 57). He claimed that he was unable to work since December 31, 1991 due to a pinched nerve in his right wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome in his left wrist, and neck and back pain. (T. 75). The Social Security Administration denied his application initially and upon reconsideration. (T. 58-60; 72-74). An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing in the case on April 16, 1996 and issued a decision dated June 28, 1996. (T. 20-52; 12-17). The ALJ found that Plaintiff could still perform his past work as a security guard and therefore was not entitled to disability benefits. (T. 17).

 Plaintiff appealed that decision to the Appeals Council, which issued the Commissioner's final decision on March 3, 1997. (T. 5-7). Because the Appeals Council refused to review the ALJ's decision, plaintiff commenced this action. Presently before the Court are the parties' motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12 (c).

 FACTUAL BACKGROUND

 Singletary completed three years of college and then worked as an ironworker and in the construction trade from 1975 to 1987. (T. 79). In 1987, according to one medical report, Singletary injured himself when he fell from a ladder. He caught himself with his right hand, preventing a fall of several stories. (T. 116). As a result of that incident, Singletary underwent surgical repair for torn right rotator cuff in June of 1988, at which time he complained of back and neck pain, as well as shoulder pain. (T.26-7; 75). Thereafter, Singletary went back to work as a dishwasher-baker and a security guard at a mall. (T. 83). Singletary described his security guard duties as including responsibility "to apprehend offenders[,] take them into custody and call police." (T. 87).

 Singletary sought Worker's Compensation benefits in connection with the incidents which occurred while he was a security guard, so the record contains a series of reports from doctors who saw him in this context. (T. 25-6, 238-49). He sought treatment for back and neck pain from a variety of practitioners, including orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors. (See, e.g., T. 287-90; 165-7; 146).

 The medical evidence establishes that Singletary suffered from degenerative changes in the cervical and lumbar spine. In July 1992, Dr. Dunn, a neurologist, noted that an MRI examination of Singletary's cervical spine "showed some degenerative changes at C3-4 as well as C6-7, but no changes that would correlate with his symptoms." (T. 169). A later MRI examination, which took place on June 20, 1995, after Singletary applied for disability benefits, resulted in the following findings:

 
At the C3-4 level, there is degenerative disc disease with decreased disc height, small anterior and posterior vertebral body osteophytes, and small anterior and posterior disc bulges. . . .
 
At the C5-6 and C6-7 levels, there is degenerative disc disease with decreased disc height and small anterior and posterior disc bulges.
 
At the T1-2 level, there is a minimal bulge of the posterior disc causing partial effacement of the ...

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