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Moscoso v. Astrue

June 8, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: John Gleeson, United States District Judge



On August 19, 2005, plaintiff Clara Luz Moscoso filed an application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). She alleged an inability to work, beginning in December 1, 2000, due to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Moscoso's application was denied on February 15, 2006, and she requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). Moscoso was represented by counsel at the January 30, 2007 hearing before ALJ James B. Reap. On August 13, 2007, the ALJ concluded that Moscoso was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act ("the Act") because she retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform her past work as a frame packer. The Appeals Council denied Moscoso's request for review on September 26, 2008. The adverse decision thus became the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner").

Moscoso seeks review of that decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Based upon the record before the Commissioner, the parties have cross-moved for judgment on the pleadings. I heard oral argument on June 5, 2009.

Because the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record, I grant the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings and deny plaintiff's cross-motion.


A. Moscoso's Statements and Testimony

Moscoso was born in 1947. She worked as a packager in a glass factory from July 1968 to August 1997 and in a clothing store from July 1999 through September 1999. These jobs required her to walk or stand the entire day and lift less than ten pounds. Moscoso stopped working on October 1, 1999 because she was laid off.

In a function report dated October 14, 2005, Moscoso indicated that her obesity made it difficult for her to clean and dress herself. Although she still cooked for herself, it took her longer to do so because she was unable to stand for "very long." Tr. at 96. She stated that she could no longer dance and had stopped going to church because she could "barely walk." Tr. at 98. She lived with her niece, who did most of the cleaning and shopping for their household.

At the hearing, Moscoso testified that pain in her legs and back and numbness in her extremities rendered her unable to work. She also stated that she had diabetes, swelling, dizziness, and impaired vision. She stated that she "can't be standing up" and could not walk half of a block. Tr. at 199. She stated that she was unable to help with any household chores but that she went to church every Sunday.

B. Medical Evidence

1. Dr. DeLara

Moscoso received treatment from Dr. Francisco DeLara, an internist, from August 17, 2001 through 2006. During Moscoso's initial visit, DeLara noted that she had undergone a cholecystectomy (surgical removal of the gallbladder) in February 2000 and had a history of diabetes, anemia, and hypertension. She denied any arthritis pain and had no fissuring of her feet or edema in her extremities. He did note harsh breath sounds and mild kyphosis (outward curvature) of the spine. Moscoso was 5'2"*fn1 tall and weighed 256 pounds, and her blood pressure was 100/80. He diagnosed diabetes, dry skin, dermatisis (inflamed skin), and obesity, prescribed Glucophage, Cozaar, Lipitor, and Actos, and counseled Moscoso on diet and exercise.

On September 6, 2001, during a follow-up visit, Moscoso complained of dry skin and itching. Dr. DeLara noted that Moscoso was "doing well." Tr. at 124. Her blood pressure was 120/90 and her lungs were normal. Dr. DeLara prescribed medication for dermatitis.

Between August 2001 and January 6, 2004, Moscoso visited Dr. DeLara approximately every two months for treatment of her diabetes and hypertension. Her blood pressure fluctuated between 150/100 and 120/80, and her weight steadily increased to 280 pounds. Aside from a mention of a "body ache" on March 4, 2003, Tr. at 130, and a prescription for Tylenol on April 15, 2002, Tr. 125, De Lara's treatment notes do not suggest any complaints of pain, and consistently state that Moscoso was "doing well" or had "[n]o major complaints." See, e.g., Tr. at 127.

The record also contains notes from Moscoso's visits to Dr. DeLara on August 23, 2004, February 28, 2005, June 12, 2006, September 26, 2006, and November 19, 2006. Aside from two statements that Moscoso's diabetes was "out of control," Tr. at 136, and that Moscoso weighed as much as 295 pounds, ...

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