of high distractibility." (Id.) Dr. Hoffman administered the
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. (Id.) Craven tamed a
verbal IQ of 134, a performance scale IQ of 138, and a full-scale
IQ of 139, which indicated "superior intellectual functioning."
(R. 105.) Dr. Hoffman concluded that Craven "shows no
intellectual deficits . . . [and] shows the ability to achieve
competitive employment and to manage her finances independently."
(Id.) Dr. Hoffman recommended that Craven "be encouraged to seek
full-time competitive employment" and felt that her "prognosis is
considered excellent." (Id.)
Dr. Renee Ravid, a psychiatrist, evaluated Craven on April 17,
1997. (R. 131-33.) Dr. Ravid reported that Craven was a "poor
historian and has difficulty giving a cogent history." (Id.)
Craven nevertheless reported that she "began psychiatric
treatment at age 17 and has been in treatment off and on since
then. . . . She has been suffering from fatigue since age 3, and
having mood swings, she sleeps a lot and has nightmares." (Id.)
Dr. Ravin found that Craven had a "rather childliie demeanor and
presentation," and her speech was "extremely rapid, loquacious,
frequently interrupts the interviewer [and] tends to be somewhat
digressive." (Id.) Craven's mood was "somewhat labile" but her
affect was bright. (R. 132.) Dr. Ravin reported that Craven
"describes herself as being `exceedingly intelligent', that she
is a `genius' at certain things, such as presentation of
statistics. There is a grandiose flavor to her." (Id.) Craven was
"alert and oriented," her concentration was good, but her
"[i]nsight and judgment are somewhat limited." (Id.) In Dr.
Ravid's opinion, Craven suffered from a "mood disorder
characterized by mood lability, depression, fatigue, grandiosity,
pressured and digressive speech." (Id.) Dr. Ravin diagnosed
Craven with "bipolar disorder, n.o.s." (Id.) Dr. Ravin felt that
a "review of past psychiatric treatment and past and current
school reports would prove helpful." (R. 133.) According to Dr.
Ravin, Craven "appear[ed] able to budget cash benefits" and her
"[p]rognosis is fair." (Id.)
3. Residual Functional Capacity Assessments
Dr. Joseph Minola and Dr. Juan C. Echevarria reviewed Craven's
medical records and completed Mental Residual Functional Capacity
Assessments on November 26, 1996 and May 8, 1997 respectively.
(R. 118-30, 134-46.) Dr. Minola and Dr. Echevarria both found
that Craven was not significantly limited in the categories of
"Understanding and Memory," "Sustained Concentration and
Persistence," "Social Interaction" and "Adaptation." (R. 118-19,
134.) Dr. Minola and Dr. Echevarria determined that Craven's
impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment, but that
her impairments fit into the affective disorders category. (R.
122, 138.) Within that category, Dr. Minola opined that Craven
had "[d]isturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial
manic or depressive syndrome, as evidenced by . . . Dysthymic
Disorder." (R. 125.) Dr. Echevarria opined that Craven had
"[d]isturbance of mood, accompanied by a full or partial manic or
depressive syndrome, as evidence by . . . [d]epressive syndrome
characterized by . . . [a]nhedonia or pervasive loss of interest
in almost all activities, . . . [a]ppetite disturbance with
change in weight, [and] . . . [s]leep disturbance" (R. 141) — an
inexplicable finding since there is no evidence in the record
that Craven suffered appetite loss or weight gain or loss. Dr.
Minola found that Craven was only slightly limited in the
"Restriction of Activities of Daily Living," while Dr. Echevarria
found no limitations; both doctors found slight limitations in
the "Difficulties in Maintaining Social Functioning" categories;
Dr. Minola found Craven often limited in the category of
"Deficiencies of Concentration, Persistence or Pace Resulting in
Failure to Complete tasks in a Timely Manner (in work settings or
elsewhere)," while Dr. Echevarria found her seldom limited in
that category; and
both doctors found Craven never limited in the category of
"Episodes of Deterioration or Decompensation in Work or Work-Like
Settings Which Cause the Individual to Withdraw from that
Situation or to Experience Exacerbation of Signs and Symptoms
(which may Include Deterioration of Adaptive Behaviors)." (R.
D. The ALJ's Decision
On December 29, 1997, the ALJ issued his written decision. (R.
11-19.) The ALJ found that Craven had "not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since December 21, 1992," and that Craven has
"dysthymic disorder with anxiety and a bipolar disorder,
impairments which are severe but which [does] not meet or equal
the criteria of any of the impairments listed in Appendix 1,
Subpart P, Regulations No. 4." (R. 18; see also R. 15.)
The ALJ reviewed and summarized the reports by Dr. King, Dr.
Hoffman, Dr. Ravid and Dr. Cheng. (R. 16-17.) The ALJ stated that
Craven rarely received medical treatment from December 31, 1992
to the present, and that she began treatment for her condition on
February 21, 1997 (R. 17), even though Craven stated that she had
seen a private psychologist prior to February 1997 (R. 46). The
ALJ determined that Craven demonstrated that she is employable,
and by "her own statement, she has taken additional college
courses and works on a part time basis at Hunter College.
Furthermore, [Craven] reported that she did not leave her job due
to a disabling condition, but due to layoffs." (R. 17.) This
conclusion is also not supported by the record, since Craven said
that she was fired from the bank because she did not get along
with her supervisor and was unable to sell any bank products, and
fired from Hunter because she did not get along with co-workers.
(R. 36, 41, 45, 83, 92.) The ALJ also noted that Craven earned
money in 1995 and 1996 for part-time work. (Id.) The ALJ found
Craven's testimony about her inability to work "not entirely
credible" in light of her assertions concerning her ability to
work and her "medical history, or lack thereof." (R. 18-19.) The
ALJ believed that Craven's subjective complaints were not
supported by the objective evidence. (R. 18.)
The ALJ concluded that Craven's impairments did not prevent her
from performing her past work as a data processor. (R. 18-19.)
I. THE APPLICABLE LAW
A. The Definition of Disability
A person is considered disabled for Social Security benefits
purposes when she is unable "to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A); see, e.g., Rosa v. Callahan, 168 F.3d 72, 77 (2d
Cir. 1999); Balsamo v. Chater, 142 F.3d 75, 79 (2d Cir. 1998);
Perez v. Chater, 77 F.3d 41, 46 (2d Cir. 1996); Vega v.
Commissioner of Soc. Sec., 97 Civ. 6438, 1998 WL 255411 at *5
(S.D.N.Y. May 20, 1998) (Peck, M.J.); Pickering v. Chater,
951 F. Supp. 418, 422 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (Batts, D.J. & Peck, M.J.); Burris
v. Chater, 94 Civ. 8049, 1996 WL 148345 at *2 (S.D.N.Y. April 2,
1996); DeJesus v. Shalala, 94 Civ. 0772, 1995 WL 812857 at *4
(S.D.N.Y. June 14, 1995) (Peck, M.J.), report & rec. adopted;
899 F. Supp. 1171 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Francese v. Shalala, 897 F. Supp. 766,
769 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Walzer v. Chater, 93 Civ. 6240, 1995 WL
791963 at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 26, 1995) (Kaplan, D.J. & Peck,
M.J.); Coleman v. Shalala, 895 F. Supp. 50, 53 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).
The combined effect of all impairments must be of such severity
that the person
is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot,
considering his age, education, and work experience,
engage in any other kind of substantial gainful
work which exists in the national economy, regardless
of whether such work exists in the immediate area in
which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy
exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he
applied for work.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A); see, e.g., Rosa v. Callahan, 168
F.3d at 77; Balsamo v. Chater, 142 F.3d at 79; Vega v.
Commissioner of Soc. Sec. 1998 WL 255411 at *6; Pickering v.
Chater, 951 F. Supp. at 422-23; Burris v. Chater, 1996 WL 148345
at *2; DeJesus v. Shalala, 1995 WL 812857 at *4. Walzer v.
Chater, 1995 WL 791963 at *6.
In determining whether an individual is disabled for disability
benefit purposes, the Commissioner must consider: "(1) the
objective medical facts; (2) diagnoses or medical opinions based
on such facts; (3) subjective evidence of pain or disability
testified to by the claimant or others; and (4) the claimant's
educational background, age, and work experience." Mongeur v.
Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1037 (2d Cir. 1983) (per curiam); see
also, e.g., Brown v. Apfel 174 F.3d 59, 62 (2d Cir. 1999);
Carroll v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 705 F.2d 638, 642
(2d Cir. 1983); Vega v. Commissioner of Soc. Sec., 1998 WL 255411
at *6; Pickering v. Chater, 951 F. Supp. at 423; Walzer v.
Chater, 1995 WL 791963 at *6; DeJesus v. Shalala, 1995 WL 812857
A court's review of the Commissioner's final decision is
limited to determining whether there is "substantial evidence" in
the record to support such determination. E.g., Rosa v. Callahan,
168 F.3d at 77; Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir.
1998); Perez v. Chater, 77 F.3d at 46; Riviera v. Sullivan,
923 F.2d 964, 967 (2d Cir. 1991); Mongeur v. Heckler, 722 F.2d at
1038; Dumas v. Schweiker, 712 F.2d 1545 1550 (2d Cir. 1983);
Fernandez v. Apfel, 97 Civ. 6936, 1998 WL 603151 at *7 (S.D.N Y
Sept. 11, 1998) (Peck, M.J.), Vega v. Commissioner of Soc. Sec.,
1998 WL 255411 at *6; Pickering v. Chater, 951 F. Supp. at 423;
Burris v. Chater, 1996 WL 148345 at *2; Walzer v. Chater, 1995 WL
791963 at *6; Francese v. Shalala, 897 F. Supp. at 770; Coleman
v. Shalala, 895 F. Supp. at 54; 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). "Thus,
the role of the district court is quite limited and substantial
deference is to be afforded the Commissioner's decision." Burris
v. Chater, 1996 WL 148345 at *3; see also, e.g., Fernandez v.
Apfel, 1998 WL 603151 at *7; Vega v. Commissidner of Soc. Sec.,
1998 WL 255411 at *6; Francese v. Shalala, 897 F. Supp. at 770.
The Supreme Court has defined "substantial evidence" as
"`more than a mere scintilla [and] such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'" Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420, 1427, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971); accord; e.g., Tejada v. Apfel,
167 F.3d 770, 773-74 (2d Cir. 1999); Rosa v. Callahan, 168 F.3d
at 77; Perez v. Chater, 77 F.3d at 46; Fernandez v. Apfel, 1998
WL 603151 at *8; Vega v. Commissioner of Soc. Sec., 1998 WL
255411 at *6; Pickering v. Chater, 951 F. Supp. at 423; Walzer v.
Chater, 1995 WL 791963 at *6.
However, the Court will not defer to the Commissioner's
determination if it is "`the product of legal error.'" E.g.,
Fernandez v. Apfel, 1998 WL 603151 at *8; Vega v. Commissioner of
Soc. Sec., 1998 WL 255411 at *6; Burris v. Chater, 1996 WL 148345
at *3; Francese v. Shalala, 897 F. Supp. at 770.
The Commissioner's regulations set forth a five-step sequence
to be used in evaluating disability claims.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, 416.920; Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137,
140, 107 S.Ct. 2287, 2291, 96 L.Ed.2d 119 (1987). The Second
Circuit has articulated the five steps as follows:
 First, the Secretary [now, Commissioner] considers
whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
gainful activity.  If he is not, the Secretary
next considers whether the claimant has a "severe
impairment" which significantly limits his physical or
mental ability to do basic work activities.  If the
claimant suffers such an impairment, the third inquiry
is whether, based solely on medical evidence, the
claimant has an impairment which is listed in Appendix
1 of the regulations. If the claimant has such an
impairment, the Secretary will consider him disabled
without considering vocational factors such as age,
education, and work experience; the Secretary presumes
that a claimant who is afflicted with a "listed"
impairment is unable to perform substantial gainful
activity.  Assuming the claimant does not have a
listed impairment, the fourth inquiry is whether,
despite the claimant's severe impairment, he has the
residual functional capacity to perform his past work.
 Finally, if the claimant is unable to perform his
past work, the Secretary then determines whether there
is other work which the claimant could perform.
Berry v. Schweiker,