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