The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa, United States District Judge.
Siragusa, J. The plaintiff brought this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final determination of the
Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") who denied Barbara A.
Lepak's application for disability benefits. Before the Court is the
Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings (docket #4) seeking
an order affirming the Commissioner's decision, and plaintiff's motion
(docket #9) for either judgment on the pleadings and remand for
calculation of benefits, or, in the alternative, remanding the case for
further development of the record and application of the proper legal
standards. For the reasons stated below, the Court grants the plaintiff's
motion to reverse the Commissioner's decision and to remand for further
development of the record pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S. Code §
405(g), and denies the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the
II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Claimant Barbara A. Lepak ("Decedent") filed an application for
disability insurance benefits on March 6, 1998. The application was
denied initially and on reconsideration. The decedent filed a request for
a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") and the hearing was
held on December 30, 1998. On March 23, 1999, the ALJ found the decedent
retained the residual functional capacity to perform her past relevant
work as a dispatcher.
Following the decedent's death on April 26, 2001, Melvin Lepak, as the
decedent's surviving spouse, was substituted as the plaintiff herein
pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 404(d).
The ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision when the
appeals Council denied the plaintiff's request for review on June 1,
2001. The plaintiff commenced a civil action in this Court on July 3,
III. DECEDENT'S WORK HISTORY
The decedent, who was born on July 11, 1948, claimed she had been
disabled since February 1, 1989. She testified before the ALJ that she
had been previously employed by IBM as a dispatcher for service calls.
She described this employment to the ALJ as "video terminal work." She
started that work in June of 1980 and stopped working at that job on July
11, 1988. The dispatching job required her to remain seated in a chair
all day, answer the phone, and type information into the computer
system. While at work, due to her medical problems, she experienced
alterations in vision, blood sugar changes, and vomiting. She also
testified that she could not obtain a full night's rest due to her
medical difficulties, and, therefore, was unable to maintain a daily work
schedule. She was last insured for Social Security benefits as of
December 31, 1994.
The decedent was diagnosed with diabetes. From 1980 through April
1993, she was treated periodically by Dr. Newton Galusha. Until the
summer of 1986, Dr. Galusha thought that the decedent was relatively
asymptomatic as to her diabetes and could work without restrictions.
However, according to a report from Dr. Galusha dated December 14, 1988,
the decedent experienced increased difficulties during the fall of 1987,
and was hospitalized three times for problems related to her diabetes. An
EEG test, which was administered to her, showed generalized proximal
activity compatible with a seizure disorder. Dr.
Galusha described the
decedent's primary problem as arising from her complaint of decreased
visual acuity, for which he referred her to Dr. Debra Duer. Dr. Galusha
opined in his December 14, 1987 letter that her ability to return to work
duties depended on her visual acuity.
On September 16, 1988, Dr. Galusha reported that the decedent was
suffering from multiple medical problems, including: insulin dependent
diabetes; seizure disorder; migraine variant syndrome with visual
disturbance; and reoccurring gastrointestinal problems. He additionally
detailed sixteen different medications she was taking for these
In January 1990, the decedent was hospitalized again, this time for
nausea, vomiting and dehydration. At the time, her diabetes remained
under poor control. She experienced a further hospitalization in October
1990 for removal of her right kidney.
During the course of his treatment, Dr. Galusha made extensive notes
regarding the decedent's medical complaints, including inability to
sleep, diarrhea, depression, seizures, drug reactions and ...