The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wexler, District Judge.
Plaintiff seeks judicial review, pursuant to § 205(g) of the
Social Security Act (the "Act"). 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g), of a final
determination of the Commisioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner")
denying his application for disability insurance benefits. The
Commissioner moves for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 12(c). For the reasons below, the motion is granted.
Plaintiff Peter Vitale applied for Social Security disability insurance
benefits on March 1, 1994, alleging disability since November 14, 1980.
Transcript of Administrative Record ("Tr.") 42. Plaintiff met the Act's
insured status requirements and was fully insured through December 31,
1985. His application was denied initially on June 30, 1994 and on
reconsideration on September 16, 1994. On October 24, 1994, plaintiff
requested a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ").
A hearing was held before an ALJ on June 20, 1995. By decision dated
July 24, 1995, the ALJ held that plaintiff was not disabled under the
Act. Tr. 19-29. Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the
ALJ's decision, and on March 28, 1997, the Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review. Plaintiff then commenced this action.
B. The Administrative Record
The administrative record showed the following: Plaintiff was born on
July 11, 1944. He received a high school equivalency diploma. On March
1, 1979, plaintiff was involved in "an accident while on the
job as a sanitation worker with the Department of Sanitation when his
sanitation truck was struck by another truck. He returned to work shortly
after the accident, first on light duty and then on full duty. However,
he stopped working on November 14, 1980. He claimed he was disabled since
that date due to back/neck pain and depression. He testified that he
received a disability pension of $1,300.00 a month from the Department of
Sanitation. As noted, plaintiff's insured status expired on December 31,
1985, at which time he was 41 years of age.
Plaintiff testified that after he stopped working, he experienced pain
in his back every day, and that his back would "go out" and he would end
up bedridden" [s]ometimes for months at a time." He testified that he
experienced depression, which had affected his marriage and "his ability
to leave the house and perform daily chores. He testified that he saw a
clinical psychologist, Dr. Roslyn R. Braun, for a couple of months in the
early 1980's due to marital problems. He further testified that he was
not hospitalized and did not receive orthopedic treatment between
November 14, 1980 and December 31, 1995, when his insured status
expired, although he recalled receiving chiropractic treatment. He did
not recall if, prior to the expiration of his insured status, any doctor
had prescribed medication for him.
Plaintiff also testified that since 1980 he had experienced pain every
day while sitting, standing, and walking. He stated that he could lift a
light bag of groceries, and his disability reports showed that he
"sometimes" cooked, vacuumed, washed dishes, and drove his car. He
testified that he enjoyed fishing, but that after the accident he was not
able to regularly fish and had not done so since August 1994. Plaintiff
maintained that his condition has become worse since December 31, 1985.
Plaintiff indicated that he occasionally drove a limousine over a four to
five year period after December 31, 1985 until the limousine service went
out of business.
Plaintiff submitted a medical report by Dr. Braun dated June 17, 1980.
Dr. Braun diagnosed plaintiff as having severe anxiety and depression
related to chronic back pain. She also reported that plaintiff had
marital problems and recommended that he undergo psychiatric treatment.
Plaintiff first sought treatment by a chiropractor, Dr. Kevin Barbier,
on April 28, 1992. At the time, plaintiff reported a long history of low
back pain and a recent onset of hack pain on April 1, 1992. Plaintiff
underwent treatment once a week until June 3, 1992. Plaintiff returned to
Dr. Barbier in July 1992 for treatment of recent onset of neck ...