The opinion of the court was delivered by: KEVIN FOX, Magistrate Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff Roberto Garcia ("Garcia") brings this action pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Garcia's
application for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. The Commissioner has moved for
judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of
For the reasons set forth below, I recommend that the defendant's
motion be denied and that this matter be remanded to the Commissioner for
further administrative proceedings.
On May 4, 1993, Garcia filed applications for disability insurance
benefits and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits, in which he
alleged that he became disabled on June 6, 1987, as a consequence of wounds he sustained to his hands. (Tr.
215-18).*fn1 Both applications were denied initially on August 26,
1993, and on reconsideration on December 15, 1993. (Tr. 149-52, 156-59).
Garcia then requested a de novo hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ"), and appeared pro se before ALJ Jonathan Jacobs on January
11, 1995, for a hearing in connection with the disability insurance
benefits application.*fn2 (Tr. 45). On March 11, 1995, ALJ Jacobs issued
a decision ("1995 ALJ Decision") finding that the plaintiff was not
entitled to disability benefits because he was not disabled within the
meaning of the Social Security Act as of December 31, 1989, the date he
was last insured for disability benefits. (Tr. 45-48).
On April 25, 1996, the Appeals Council granted the plaintiff's request
for review and found that the ALJ had failed to develop the record
adequately with respect to medical treatment received by the plaintiff.
(Tr. 232-32). Accordingly, the Appeals Council vacated the 1995 ALJ
Decision and remanded Garcia's application for another hearing. (Id.)
Garcia appeared, this time with counsel, for an additional hearing before
ALJ Jacobs on July 18, 1996. Thereafter, on September 26, 1996, the ALJ
issued a new decision ("1996 ALJ Decision"), again finding that Garcia
was not entitled to disability benefits. (Tr. 278-83).
On April 17, 1998, the Appeals Council again granted review, vacated
the 1996 ALJ Decision, and remanded the application this time with instructions that
the ALJ: 1) elicit the testimony of a vocational expert, in order to
determine whether there were a significant number of jobs in the national
economy that Garcia could have performed during the relevant period; and
2) determine whether Garcia was unable to communicate in English. (Tr.
263-64). Garcia appeared, with counsel, before ALJ Mark J. Hecht on
December 9, 1998, ("December 1998 hearing"). (Tr. 14-18). At that
hearing, the testimony of vocational expert Edna Clark ("Clark") was
taken, as well as testimony from Garcia regarding his English language
skills. (Id.). In a decision dated March 22, 1999, ("1999 ALJ
Decision"), ALJ Hecht found that Garcia was not entitled to disability
benefits. (Id.) The 1999 ALJ Decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Garcia's request for review
of that decision on March 23, 2001. (Tr. 3-4).
At each of the three administrative hearings, a Spanish language
interpreter was provided for Garcia.
Garcia filed the instant complaint seeking review of the Commissioner's
decision on May 22, 2001; thereafter, the Commissioner moved for judgment
on the pleadings, pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. Although Garcia received notice of the defendant's motion, he
has not filed any response in opposition to it.
Garcia was born on September 7, 1947, in the Dominican Republic. (Tr.
128). He attended school in the Dominican Republic, completing the
eleventh grade. (Tr. 93). In 1970, Garcia came to the United States and,
in 1982, he became a citizen. (Tr. 89). He has testified that: (a) he can speak a limited amount of English, but not well;
(b) he cannot read or write in English; and ...