The opinion of the court was delivered by: Larimer, Chief Judge.
This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
review the final determination of the Commissioner of Social
Security ("the Commissioner") that plaintiff was not disabled
under the Social Security Act, and therefore, was not entitled to
disability benefits. Both plaintiff and the Commissioner have
moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to FED.R.CIV.P.
12(c). For the reasons outlined below, the Court finds that the
Commissioner's decision was not supported by substantial evidence
and accordingly remands the matter for further administrative
Plaintiff Micheline B. Cloutier ("Cloutier") applied for Social
Security disability benefits on February 17, 1995. (T. 87).*fn1
The Social Security Administration denied her application
initially and upon reconsideration. (T. 91, 118). Plaintiff
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"),
and hearings were held in the case on March 12, 1996 and February
10, 1997. (T. 29-86). On March 27, 1997, the ALJ issued a
decision in which she found that plaintiff could still perform
her past work as a cook and housekeeper and therefore was not
entitled to disability benefits. (T. 13-19). The ALJ's decision
became the final decision of the Commissioner on May 4, 1998 when
the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (T.
5-6). Pursuant to section 405(g) of the Social Security Act,
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff commenced this action on July 7, 1998,
seeking review by this Court of the Commissioner's final
Cloutier was born on November 27, 1943. (T. 34). Claiming that
she has been unable to work since May 10, 1994 due to a back
injury and aneurysm, plaintiff seeks disability benefits. (T. 13,
93). Cloutier attended but never completed high school. (T. 37).
She formerly worked as a dietary aide, cook, and housekeeper. (T.
The medical records contained in the file delineate a long
history of plaintiff's complaints of back, leg and arm pain. She
sought treatment for back pain from a variety of practitioners,
including orthopaedic surgeons, chiropractors, and at a pain
In 1988, plaintiff appears to have suffered a stroke, and in
February 1995, plaintiff was hospitalized after a cerebral
aneurysm was detected. A craniotomy was performed to repair the
In 1996, plaintiff was referred for a psychological
examination. Plaintiff was measured with a verbal IQ of 79, and a
full-scale IQ of 76. The attending psychologist diagnosed
plaintiff with dysthymic disorder and cognitive disorder.
Cloutier's long-term treating physician, Dr. Arluck, completed
a physical capacities evaluation form on August 1, 1996 that
indicated that Cloutier could only stand and walk three hours per
eight hour work day, and could only lift up to five pounds
frequently.*fn2 (T. 350).
With respect to plaintiff's cognitive difficulties, the ALJ
"The ALJ concludes that the relatively low IQ scores
. . . are undoubtedly because she was born in Quebec
and English is not her native language. . . . [T]he
plaintiff was given a diagnosis of dysthymic
disorder. However, the mental residual functional
capacity evaluation ...