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Robert Nigro v. Michael J. Astrue

September 30, 2011

ROBERT NIGRO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Seybert, District Judge:

MORANDUM & ORDER

Robert Nigro ("Plaintiff") commenced this action pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's (the "Commissioner") decision that Plaintiff was not disabled prior to February 9, 2009. Pending before the Court is the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings. For the following reasons, this motion is DENIED, and this matter is remanded to the Commissioner for further administrative proceedings consistent with this Memorandum & Order.

BACKGROUND

In this section, the Court sets forth the facts necessary to put its analysis in context. Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, claiming that he became disabled on March 1, 2004. Following a hearing, Administrative Law Judge Brian J. Crawley (the "ALJ") issued a partially favorable ruling that awarded Plaintiff benefits as of February 9, 2009. On January 29, 2010, the Commissioner issued a final decision denying Plaintiff benefits for the period between March 1, 2004 and February 9, 2009. Plaintiff appeals that decision here.

Plaintiff has a high school diploma and some vocational training in electronics. His prior jobs include a deli worker, a delivery van driver, a department store stockroom worker, a warehouse worker, and a vacuum salesman and repairer.

(R. 94, 100.) He stopped working on March 1, 2004 because of pain in his back. (R. 23.) On his initial claim, he indicated that he was suffering persistent, right-sided, lower back pain and pain that radiated into his left thigh. He also reported dizziness that would cause him to fall occasionally. (See R. 24.)

I. Evidence Before the ALJ

The following is a brief recitation of the evidence most relevant to the present appeal. An overview of the records available to the ALJ is summarized in the letter Plaintiff's counsel sent to the ALJ prior to the hearing. (R. 122-24)

A. Plaintiff's Testimony

Plaintiff testified about his symptoms, treatment, and daily activities. He has constant or near constant pain in his feet, left thigh, the right side of his back, and neck. The neck pain varies; "[s]ometimes it's ok, sometimes it's not."

(R. 30.) His left thigh starts the day numb and eventually becomes more painful than a toothache. (R. 31.) His toes are always numb. (R. 32.) Throughout the day, he gradually loses strength in his legs to the point where he cannot stand. (R. 31.) The numbness and pain eventually become so bad that he just falls down. (R. 35.) These falling episodes happen without warning, (R. 37), and they occur approximately twice monthly. (R. 39.)

Plaintiff said that his pain is such that he usually cannot sleep through the night. (R. 33.) He also experiences headaches three times per week. He has discussed these with his chiropractor, but so far no one has been able to discern their cause. (R. 39.)

To relieve the pain, Plaintiff can lie down and elevate his legs. This sometimes works, but even then he still suffers from muscle spasms. (R. 33.) He sometimes soaks his feet in a foot massage bath, which helps relieve the pain in his foot and thigh. (R. 34.) He does not use a cane or brace. His chiropractor suggested a back strap, but Plaintiff could not get his insurance to cover the expense. (R. 35.) Plaintiff also takes prescription Motrin, which helps moderate his pain. (R. 34.)

Sitting and standing aggravate Plaintiff's condition, and his fingers lock up if he sits for too long. (R. 35). He estimated that he could not sit for more than a half hour, (R. 36), and that he could stand for approximately ...


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