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MARTINEZ v. MASSANARI

January 27, 2003

CARMEN A. MARTINEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LARRY G. MASSANARI, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR Marrero, District Judge.

DECISION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Carmen A. Martinez ("Martinez") brings this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (the "Act"), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision by the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner") denying her Application for Disability Insurance Benefits dated December 3, 1997 (the "Application") filed pursuant to Titles II and XVIII of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. and 1395 et seq. Martinez alleges errors entitling her to a new administrative hearing. The Commissioner disagrees. Martinez and the Commissioner have filed a motion and cross-motion, respectively, for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons discussed blow, Martinez's motion is GRANTED and the Commissioner's motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Martinez filed her Application for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (the "SSA") on December 3, 1997. Her Application was denied, and she requested a hearing which was conducted before Administrative Law Judge Allan T. O'Sullivan (the "ALJ") on April 20, 1999 and at which Martinez was represented by counsel. The ALJ issued a decision on June 19, 1999 (the "SSA Decision") finding that Martinez was not disabled during the relevant time period and denying her claim for disability benefits. Martinez sought administrative review from the SSA's Appeals Council, and the SSA Decision became final when the Appeals Council denied her requested review on January 26, 2000.

B. MEDICAL EVIDENCE AND MARTINEZ'S PERSONAL BACKGROUND

1. Martinez's Personal History

Martinez was born on March 6, 1943.*fn1 She attended high school into the twelfth grade but did not graduate, though she testified at the administrative hearing that she could read and write English. She worked as a secretary for a hospital blood bank from 1969 through 1981. From November 1984 through January 1985, Martinez worked part-time as a receptionist and operator at a nursing home. Martinez was medically insured through March 31, 1987.

2. Medical Evidence Prior To March 31, 1987

Prior to 1981, Martinez experienced pain in her lower back radiating down her right leg. In 1981, she had surgery to remove a herniated disc in her back. She testified to considerable pain and limited mobility following this surgery through March 31, 1987 and beyond.

Medical records from Martinez's 1981 surgery and followup treatment at the Hospital for Joint Disease are unavailable, but Martinez supplied copies of her relevant payment records. (R. at 166-76.) Payment records, bills, and related forms, while not especially detailed, also indicate that Martinez was admitted to the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, New York for four days in March 1982, (R. at 160-178, 181-83), to New York Hospital in New York, New York for nine days in October-November of 1982, (R. at 184-85), and to Doctor's Hospital in January 1985, where she was diagnosed with sciatic radiculopathy and cervical radiculitus, (R. at 159-160).

3. Medical Evidence After March 31, 1987

a. Diagnoses, Performance Evaluations, and Treatment


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