The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stein, District Judge.
Plaintiff David Davila Marrero brings this pro se action
pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act ("the
Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to challenge a final determination by
defendant Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of Social Security,
denying him Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. The
Commissioner has moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). Because, as set forth below, substantial
evidence supports the Commissioner's determination, defendant's
motion is granted.
On October 7, 1991, Marrero filed an application for SSI
benefits pursuant to Title XVI of the Act, asserting that he
suffered from a "nervous condition" preventing him from working
and therefore entitling him to benefits. R. 59-71.*fn1 On March
31, 1992, this application was initially denied, but Marrero
requested reconsideration. R. 94-126. On November 3, 1992, a
hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Joseph
K. Rowe, at which Marrero appeared and testified through a
Spanish interpreter. R. 29-41, 284-98. On December 21, 1992, the
ALJ issued a decision finding Marrero was not disabled and
denying his claim for SSI benefits. R. 172-74. Marrero then
requested administrative review of the ALJ's decision. R. 179. On
March 31, 1993, the Appeals Council of the Social Security
Administration vacated the decision and remanded for a new
hearing with instructions to obtain additional medical records
pertaining to treatment Marrero had received while living in
Puerto Rico. R. 186-87. On remand, attempts to obtain the
additional records proved unsuccessful. R. 189-209. On September
1, 1993, a second hearing was held before ALJ Rowe at which
Marrero again testified through an interpreter. R. 42-58,
299-315. On September 24, 1993, the ALJ issued a second decision
again finding Marrero was not disabled and denying his claim for
SSI benefits. R. 10-16, 320-26. The Appeals Council denied
Marrero's subsequent request for review. R. 3-4, 316-17.
On April 12, 1994, Marrero filed this pro se action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) in the Southern District of New York,
contending that the determination below was not supported by
substantial evidence. On March 26, 1996, pursuant to a
stipulation between the parties, this Court remanded the case to
the Commissioner for consideration of additional medical records
from Puerto Rico. R. 333-34. On January 31, 1997, the Appeals
Council remanded the case for a new hearing with instructions to
update the medical evidence. R. 335-36. After the additional
records were obtained, ALJ Mark S. Sochaczewsky held a third
hearing on September 10, 1997, at which
Marrero again testified through an interpreter, and at which a
medical expert and a vocational expert also testified. R. 261-80.
On December 8, 1997, the ALJ issued a third decision finding
Marrero had not been disabled at any time since October 7, 1991.
R. 242-49. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner by virtue of an order of the Appeals Council dated
April 24, 1998. R. 231.
On March 26, 1999, this Court granted Marrero's motion for an
order pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60 giving him permission to reopen
the pro se action he had originally filed in 1994. On May 14,
1999, the Commissioner moved for judgment on the pleadings
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). On July 7, 1999, this Court
issued an order notifying Marrero of the nature and consequences
of the Commissioner's motion, in accordance with McPherson v.
Coombe, 174 F.3d 276, 282 (2d Cir. 1999). On August 31, 1999,
Marrero submitted a letter to the Court, which shall be construed
liberally and shall be deemed to be his response to defendant's
motion. See Diezcabeza v. Lynch, 75 F. Supp.2d 250, 252
According to testimony given by Marrero at the hearings, he was
born in Puerto Rico on June 11, 1945, and moved to the
continental United States in 1988. R. 46, 303. He was educated
through the seventh grade in Puerto Rico, reads and speaks
Spanish, and can communicate a little in English. R. 47, 266,
304. Marrero's only work experience consisted of employment as a
jeweler and a fruit packer in Puerto Rico between 1972 and 1974.
R. 34, 291. From 1974 to 1988, he lived with and was supported by
his father. R. 293-94. After moving to the United States, he
spent three years living on the streets. R. 37, 294. Since 1992,
Marrero has lived with his wife in an apartment in New York City.
R. 47, 212, 265, 304.
Marrero contends that he is unable to work because of a nervous
condition that renders him unable to walk or to talk, affects his
memory and ability to concentrate, and causes him to suffer
insomnia. R. 267-69. He does not presently receive treatment or
medication for this condition, and he has not received regular
medical treatment since approximately 1987. R. 267. Marrero has
admitted that he has no physical limitations that affect his
ability to work, and that he has no trouble sitting, standing,
walking, bending, lifting, pushing, or pulling. R. 40, 267-68,
297. He has also testified that he is able to help with cooking,
cleaning, shopping, and housework and that he is able to travel
about the city by himself using public transportation. R. 265,
Medical documentation added to the record after this Court's
remand indicates that Marrero was admitted to a psychiatric
hospital in Puerto Rico on an involuntary basis several times
between 1982 and 1987. R. 422, 446, 721, 727, 874, 889, 942. He
was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and he
escaped from the hospital on numerous occasions. R. 422, 446,
721, 860, 923, 933. These records also reflect that Marrero
suffered from problems with drug and alcohol abuse. R. 731, 803,
On November 26, 1991, Marrero underwent a comprehensive
physical examination by Dr. Edmond B. Balinberg. R. 158-60. Dr.
Balinberg concluded that Marrero's capacity to perform
work-related activities "was within normal limits," except for a
mildly enlarged liver and the presence of boils. R. 160. Dr.
Balinberg further noted that "[h]is main problem is a ...