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GUIRDI v. BARNHART

March 3, 2004.

MARIA M. GURIDI, Plaintiff, -against- JO ANNE B. BARNHART, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant


The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff pro se Maria Guridi ("Guridi") brought this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (the "Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to obtain judicial review of a final decision of defendant Jo Anne B. Barnhart, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner"), denying Guridi's request for disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The Commissioner has moved for judgment on the pleadings, seeking an affirmance of the Commissioner's decision.

  For the reasons discussed below, the Commissioner's motion is granted.

 Prior Proceedings

  On June 6, 2001, Guridi filed an application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). Guridi also filed an application for SSI benefits under Title XVI of the Act on April 18, 2001. Both applications, alleging that she became disabled as of January 1, 2001, were denied by the Commissioner on September 6, 2001. Record ("R.") at 51. Page 2

  Guridi filed a timely request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") which was held on October 3, 2002. On October 11, 2002, the ALJ denied Guridi's claim due to a finding that her allegations regarding her limitations were not entirely credible and that her medically — determinable asthma did not prevent her from performing her past relevant work. (R. 19-20). On February 5, 2003, the Appeals Council denied Guridi's request for review and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on February 10, 2003 when Guridi received the letter indicating the decision.

  Guridi filed suit before this Court on April 16, 2003. The Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings was submitted on October 30, 2003, and no opposition was presented by Guridi. The motion was deemed fully submitted to this Court on November 26, 2003.

 Testimony and Non — Medical Evidence

  Guridi was denied SSI benefits from her application date of April 18, 2001, through October 11, 2002, the date of the ALJ's decision. SSI benefits are not payable for any month before the month in which the application is filed. 20 C.F.R. § 416.335. She was also denied disability insurance benefits from the alleged onset of her disability on January l, 2001 through the date of the ALJ's decision. Page 3

  Guridi testified at her administrative hearing through an interpreter that she was 52 years old and that she last worked on April 14, 2000, cleaning automobile parts at a job she had for 13 years. Her job involved cleaning the parts with a cloth wetted with a "gas oil" where she would work either seated or standing, depending on the work. (R. 41). The parts were set aside for someone to carry away. Id. At the administrative hearing, a vocational expert, Dr. Feinstein, testified that Guridi's work was a sedentary job and that an individual performing her past work would use an oil — based solution to lubricate the car parts and that he did not believe that volafile chemicals were used in performing Guridi's past work. (R. 50, 51). Guridi also stated that her work bothered her asthma condition and that she had suffered from asthma for about eight years. She left her job because of a reduction in personnel. She stated that in addition to her asthma, she had arthritis in her right leg with pains in her knee, which had existed for about a year. (R. 44). Guridi stated that she felt she could not breathe after walking for about two blocks and that when she stands for about an hour she gets tired. She also stated that she could only lift and carry objects weighing two pounds because when she carries something she has trouble breathing. Her family members assisted her with household chores such as cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Although Guridi was able to travel by bus and subway she rarely did so. Her regular activities included attending weekly church services and sewing. Page 4

 Medical Evidence

  A review of Guridi's medical records show that during the relevant time, Guridi's primary source of medical care was from her treating physician, Dr. Theodore Docu ("Dr. Docu"), an internal medicine physician, and the New York Presbyterian Hospital ("NYPH").

  On February 14, 2001, Dr. Docu wrote a note that stated that Guridi suffered from severe asthma with associated bronchial spasm and shortness of breath. (R. 115). On March 28, 2001, Dr. Docu wrote another note that stated that Guridi had been his patient for eight years and that she was treated on January 21, 2001 for an asthmatic attack. (R. 114, 120).

  On April 23, 2001, Dr. Docu examined Guridi who complained of wheezing and shortness of breath. (R. 121). Dr. Docu's diagnosis was asthma and he prescribed prednisone, Singulair, and the use of a nebulizer. (R. 121-22).

  On June 13, 2001, Dr. B. Fajardo ("Dr. Fajardo"), a welfare claim consulting physician, examined Guridi and found she was in no acute distress. (R. 99). He heard scattered bilateral wheezing and found that Guridi's lungs were clear during auscultation Page 5 and percussion and there were no rhonchi or rales.*fn1 Dr. Fajardo reported that a pulmonary function test showed her to be within normal limits. Id. He also examined Guridi on her claim of arthritis and opined that Guridi had a mild to moderate limitation in walking due to shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. Id. Dr. Fajardo also opined that Guridi could sit, stand, lift, carry, handle objects, hear, speak, and travel. Id. He also opined that Guridi could perform sedentary, light and moderate work activities. Id.

  Five days later on June 18, 2001, Guridi was examined by another consulting physician, Dr. Steven Rocker ("Dr. Rocker"). Dr. Rocker noted minimal scattered end expiratory wheezes and no other clinical abnormality after an examination of Guridi's extremities and gait. Dr. Rocker thought Guridi could do ...


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