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Rodriguez v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. New York

August 28, 2017

ROSA RODRIGUEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Andrew J. Peck United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Rosa Rodriguez, represented by counsel, brings this action pursuant to § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), challenging the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). (Dkt. No. 1: Compl.) Presently before the Court are the parties' cross motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(c). (Dkt. No. 10: Rodriguez Notice of Mot.; Dkt. No. 14: Comm'r Notice of Mot.) The parties have consented to decision of the case by a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Dkt. No. 9.)

         For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings (Dkt. No. 14) is GRANTED and Rodriguez's motion (Dkt. No. 10) is DENIED.

         FACTS

         Procedural Background

         Rodriguez filed for benefits on April 7, 2011, alleging a disability onset date of October 21, 2010. (Dkt. No. 7: Administrative Record ("R.") 254-58.) On April 25, 2012, Rodriguez, represented by counsel, had a hearing before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Robert Dorf, who denied Rodriguez's benefits application. (R. 85-108, 123-33.) On June 28, 2013, the Social Security Appeals Council remanded the matter for further proceedings before ALJ Dorf, including obtaining vocational expert testimony. (R. 134-37.)

         On November 13, 2013, Rodriguez, still represented by counsel, attended a second hearing before ALJ Dorf. (R. 47-84.) On March 24, 2014, ALJ Dorf issued a written decision finding Rodriguez not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (R. 29-41.) ALJ Dorf's decision became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals Council denied review on September 12, 2016 and March 21, 2017. (R. 1, 3-6.)

         Non-Medical Evidence and Testimony

         Born on November 1, 1968, Rodriguez was forty-one years old at the alleged October 21, 2010 onset of her disability. (R. 58, 255-56.) Rodriguez lives with her husband and two children, ages eighteen and seven months. (R. 55.) Rodriguez sometimes is able to lift and change her seven month old, who weighs seventeen pounds, and take him to appointments or the grocery store once every one or two weeks. (R. 56-57, 70, 275.) She can lift a gallon of milk (R. 103), has no issues with personal care (R. 272-73), and watches television and talks on the phone daily (R. 275-76). Rodriguez prepares food daily (R. 273) but experiences pain in her arms and back when she cooks or washes dishes (R. 107, 278). Rodriguez is able to pay bills and handle a savings account. (R. 275.) She has no issues getting along with family, friends, neighbors or others, and no problems paying attention or following written and spoken instructions. (R. 276, 278.)

         When her husband is unavailable, Rodriguez drives to appointments, or takes the bus or train. (R. 60, 63, 274.) Rodriguez does not use an assistive device such as a cane when she "take[s] the train, or bus, or walk[s]" (R. 63, 101) although she suffers from low back pain (R. 57-58, 277) and testified that she "can only stand up for two minutes because [her] muscles start bothering" her (R. 74). Rodriguez testified that she can walk two blocks before she has to stop and rest, and sit for ten to twenty minutes at a time (R. 102, 106, 278), but there are times when sitting is unbearable and she has to lay down (R. 75). Rodriguez described the pain in her neck and back as an eight to nine out of ten. (R. 102-03.) Rodriguez previously worked as a home attendant and babysitter (R. 59, 65, 103) although she can no longer perform such work because she "just freeze[s] up [and her] muscles tense" (R. 63).

         Vocational expert Helene Feldman testified that a person of Rodriguez's age, education, vocational background and RFC could not perform the duties of a home attendant or babysitter, but that sedentary jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that such an individual could perform, including plastic design applier, stuffer, and gauger. (R. 64-68.)[1]These jobs all are sedentary positions that could be performed either sitting or standing. (R. 66-68, 81-82.)

         Medical Evidence Before the ALJ Physical Impairments Dr. Vikas Varma

         On September 20, 2010, Dr. Vikas Varma examined Rodriguez, who complained of progressively worsening pain in the back, hip, buttocks and legs causing cramps, numbness, weakness and tingling with no relief from medication or physical therapy. (R. 337.) Dr. Varma found Rodriguez's strength "[g]ood 5/5 in all" muscle groups in the upper and lower extremities with no wasting, weakness, atrophy or fasciculations. (R. 338.) Rodriguez had a positive straight leg test and her MRI showed multilevel L3-4, L4-5, and L5-S1 disc bulges. (Id.) Dr. Varma examined Rodriguez on October 18, 2010 at which time her muscle strength remained "5/5, " but her thoracic and lumbar pain was progressively worse. (R. 339.) An electrodiagnostic study revealed mild right carpal tunnel syndrome and chronic bilateral L5-S1 radiculopathy. (R. 344.)

         On November 1, 2010, November 29, 2010 and January 3, 2011, Dr. Varma completed continued disability statements in which he opined that Rodriguez cannot do any heavy lifting, pulling, pushing, or bending. (R. 348-50.) Dr. Varma diagnosed Rodriguez with lumbar radiculopathy, and he opined that Rodriguez should not sit or stand for longer than four hours and cannot return to work even with restrictions. (Id.)

         On June 8, 2011, Dr. Varma completed a spinal impairment questionnaire, listing the "[d]ate of most recent exam" as January 3, 2011. (R. 404-10.) Dr. Varma reiterated that Rodriguez had disc bulges at ¶ 3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1 and degenerative disc disease. (R. 404.) Rodriguez had limited range of motion in her cervical and lumbar spine, tenderness and reflex changes in her lumbar spine, a positive straight right leg raise test at 25 degrees, and burning low back pain that radiated to her right leg daily, precipitated by bending and carrying heavy items. (R. 404-07.) Rodriguez had no muscle spasms, sensory loss, muscle atrophy or weakness in her cervical or lumbar spine, and no abnormal gait, swelling, crepitus or trigger points. (R. 405.) Dr. Varma opined that Rodriguez could sit for four hours and stand or walk for two hours in an eight hour workday; however, Rodriguez would have to take five minute breaks two to three times during her workday, and her impairments would cause her to be absent more than three times a month. (R. 407, 409.) Rodriguez could lift five pounds frequently and ten pounds occasionally, and carry up to ten pounds occasionally, but could never lift or carry any weight over ten pounds. (R. 407-08.) Rodriguez could do no pushing, pulling, kneeling, bending or stooping. (R. 410.) Rodriguez's symptoms would frequently interfere with her attention and concentration and were expected to last at least twelve months. (R. 408.) In the "[a]dditional comments" section, Dr. Varma wrote that Rodriguez "does not wish to try epidural injections to relieve symptoms." (R. 410.) Dr. Varma reiterated these findings in an April 6, 2012 "To Whom It May Concern" letter. (R. 541.)

         Dr. Teresella Gondolo

         On January 20, 2011, Dr. Teresella Gondolo evaluated Rodriguez for her complaints of neck and low back pain, difficulty walking, numbness and paresthesias of the upper and lower extremities with antalgic gait. (R. 386.) Rodriguez also complained of episodes of lightheadedness, dizziness and vertigo. (Id.) Rodriguez denied joint pain, swelling, muscle cramps, stiffness or arthritis. (R. 387.) On examination, Dr. Gondolo noted neck stiffness with no reduction of movement, mild tenderness in the paracervical and sternocleidomastoid, no lower back tenderness in the lumbosacral and sacroiliac region, a negative foramina compression test, and a normal thoracic spine examination. (R. 389.) Rodriguez's muscle strength was "5/5" in her bilateral upper and lower extremities and she had normal gait, tiptoe and heel walk. (R. 390.) Rodriguez's cervical spine examination revealed tenderness and diminished range of motion "in all cervical planes secondary to pain." (R. 391.) Rodriguez also experienced pain in her lumbar spine on flexion with diminished range of motion, "visible spasm as well as tenderness at [the] ¶ 4-L5 level, " "bilateral paralumbar tenderness and spasm, " and positive "[s]acroiliac joint palpation" and a positive straight leg raise at 40 degrees. (Id.) Dr. Gondolo diagnosed Rodriguez with cervical and lumbar radiculopathy. (Id.)

         On March 17, 2011, Dr. Gondolo opined, without explanation, that Rodriguez was "totally disabled for 12 months due to lumbar radiculopathy." (R. 486.) Dr. Gondolo completed a continued disability statement form on February 10, 2011 and another after Rodriguez's March 17, 2011 visit. (R. 351-52.) Both forms diagnose Rodriguez with lumbar radiculopathy and state that Rodriguez cannot return to work even with restrictions. (Id.) The latter report states that Rodriguez cannot stand for more than two hours, cannot do any lifting, pushing and pulling over five pounds, and is "totally disabled." (R. 352.)

         Industrial Medicine Associates

         Dr. Marilee Mescon of Industrial Medicine Associates performed an internal medicine examination of Rodriguez on May 17, 2011. (R. 510-13.) Dr. Mescon noted that Rodriguez had a history of low back pain that radiated to her hips, feet and neck that was worse when standing, rated "10/10" and improving to "6/10" with medication. (R. 510.) Rodriguez could cook, shower, bathe and dress, and spent her time listening to the radio, watching television and reading; family members did the cleaning, laundry and shopping. (R. 511.) Rodriguez appeared in no acute distress, with normal stance and gait, could walk on heels and toes without difficulty, could fully squat, used no assistive devices, was able to rise from the chair without difficulty and needed no help changing or getting on and off of the exam table. (Id.) Rodriguez's cervical and lumbar spine showed full flexion, extension and lateral flexion bilaterally, and full rotary movement bilaterally; no scoliosis, kyphosis or abnormality in the thoracic spine was noted. (R. 512.) However, Rodriguez's straight leg raise test was positive bilaterally in a supine and seated position. (Id.) Rodriguez had full range of motion in her shoulders, elbows, forearms and wrists bilaterally, stable and non-tender joints, and full strength in her upper and lower extremities. (Id.) Based on her examination, Dr. Mescon found that there were no limitations in Rodriguez's ability to sit, stand, climb, push, pull or carry heavy objects. (R. 513.)

         Two days later, on May 19, 2011, an x-ray of Rodriguez's lumbosacral spine showed that the height of the vertebral bodies and intervertebral disc spaces was "relatively well maintained" with "[n]o significant bony abnormality" (R. 514), which Dr. Mescon appears to have considered by hand writing the results into her May 17, 2011 evaluation (R. 512).

         On August 13, 2013, Rodriguez underwent a second internal medicine examination with Dr. Aurelio Salon of Industrial Medicine Associates. (R. 583-87.) Rodriguez presented with complaints of low back and neck pain radiating to her upper and lower extremities. (R. 583.) Rodriguez appeared in no acute distress with normal gait and stance, could walk on heels and toes without difficulty, used no assistive devices, needed no help getting on and off of the exam table or changing, and was able to rise from the chair without difficulty. (R. 585.) Rodriguez's cervical and lumbar spine showed full flexion, extension, lateral flexion bilaterally, and rotary movement bilaterally, with no scoliosis, kyphosis or abnormality in the thoracic spine. (Id.) Rodriguez's straight leg raise test was negative bilaterally, and she had full range of motion in her shoulders, elbows, forearms, wrists, hips, knees and ankles bilaterally. (Id.) Dr. Salon found that there were "no objective findings to support the fact that [Rodriguez] would be restricted in her ability to sit or stand, or in her capacity to climb, push, pull, or carry heavy objects." (R. 586.)

         On August 14, 2013, Dr. Salon completed a medical source statement that stated Rodriguez could frequently lift and carry up to ten pounds and occasionally twenty pounds, and could sit and stand for eight hours and walk for five hours total in an eight-hour workday. (R. 588-89.) Rodriguez occasionally could reach, push, pull, climb stairs or ladders, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. (R. 590-91.) Dr. Salon stated that Rodriguez's limitations would not last for twelve consecutive months. (R. 593.)

         Queens Medical Associates

         On August 23, 2010, Rodriguez saw Dr. Nina Bhambhani with complaints of joint pain in her knees, shoulders, wrists and elbows, as well as muscle pain and insomnia. (R. 367.) Rodriguez was in no acute distress with no synovitis, tenosynovitis, enthesitis or bursitis, although she had multiple tender points. (Id.) Dr. Bhambhani referred Rodriguez for epidural injections due to her persistent fibromyalgia and radiculopathy as Rodriguez had "failed P.T. and oral meds." (Id.) On September 13, 2010, Rodriguez's joint pain and insomnia had improved but her muscle pain had not. (R. 366.) On October 8, 2010, Rodriguez reported improved joint and muscle pain as well as decreased severity of her tender points, but still experienced radicular pain. (R. 365.)

         On April 12, 2011, Rodriguez saw Dr. Ji Han and claimed that her pain was "10/10" and overall function poor. (R. 398.) Rodriguez stated that her lower back pain radiated to her legs with prolonged walking or standing, and was relieved by rest, laying down and sitting. (Id.) Dr. Han noted that Rodriguez's September 2009 MRI revealed "L3/4 disc bulge causing a small ventral impression upon the thecal sac, L4/5 and L5/S1 [disc] bulges which impinge upon the thecal sac [and] minimal degenerative disease." (R. 399.) Rodriguez complained of stiffness, but denied joint pain, joint swelling or muscle cramps and was in no acute distress. (Id.) Rodriguez's thoracic spine was negative for kyphosis or scoliosis. (R. 400.) She had full lumbar spine flexion, extension, lateral flexion and rotation with no tenderness or spasm; full lower extremity muscle strength bilaterally; and tenderness, but not spasms, in her paravertebral spine. (Id.) Rodriguez's left and right straight leg raise, bowstring and lesique tests were positive. (Id.) Rodriguez presented to Dr. Han with substantially the same symptoms on June 21, 2011. (R. 687-88.)

         On July 27, 2011, Rodriguez complained to Dr. Han of lower back pain causing tingling and weakness with limited flexion and extension, but no spasms or tenderness, in her lumbar spine. (R. 706.) Rodriguez's bowstring test was negative, but she had a bilateral positive straight leg raise test. (Id.) Dr. Han administered Rodriguez a transforaminal epidural steroid injection at ¶ 5 and S1 on August 25, 2011 (R. 704), and Dr. Han wrote on September 6, 2011 that Rodriguez reported "minimal relief following the proced[ure], continues to have lower back pain into the right lateral thigh, postero/lateral calf, and shin with associated right leg numbness, tingling and weakness of the right leg" (R. 702).

         Aside from Drs. Bhambhani and Han, Rodriguez received the most extensive treatment from Dr. Alberto Rozo and Carolina Perez, RPAC, whom she saw at least fifteen times from October 9, 2010 through September 26, 2013. (R. 357-64, 603-04, 611-13, 615-35.)[2] As ALJ Dorf noted (R. 38), Dr. Rozo uses a "Review of Systems" list in which positive symptoms are marked in bold (see, e.g., R. 357). From 2010 through 2013, "Back Pain" is bolded only twice, on June 7, 2011 and December 12, 2011. (R. 625, 631.) On June 7, 2011, Perez wrote that Rodriguez "[h]as back tenderness" and was "sent to pain management, " without further explanation. (R. 632.) On December 12, 2011, Perez wrote: "[b]ack pain/lumbar disc herniation-sent for epidural injections/pain management." (R. 626.) However, on thirteen other occasions from October 9, 2010 through January 20, 2013, "Back Pain" was not bolded, and Perez or Dr. Rozo wrote that Rodriguez had "[n]o back tenderness" and appeared "[a]lert, well developed, well nourished [and] in no acute distress." (R. 357, 359, 361-63, 611-12, 615, 617-21, 623-24, 627, 629.) Perez made the same observations on June 21, 2013 and July 12, 2013. (R. 606, 609.) Moreover, on June 21, 2013, Perez noted that Rodriguez had a pain assessment of zero. (R. 608-09.)

         Dr. Casilda Balmaceda

         Rodriguez saw neurologist Dr. Casilda Balmaceda on October 31, 2011, December 6, 2011 and February 7, 2012 with complaints of daily chronic back pain that traveled into her neck and head made worse by walking. (R. 428-36.) Rodriguez appeared alert and oriented, in no acute distress with normal motor strength, reflexes and gait, and full range of motion. (R. 429, 432, 435.) Dr. Balmaceda further reported in her February 7, 2012 notes that an epidural Rodriguez received "did not help" her pain. (R. 434.) On November 10, 2011, Dr. Balmaceda received the results of Rodriguez's lumbar spine MRI, revealing mild degenerative spondylosis, disc bulges and small endplate spurs at ¶ 3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1. (R. 413.) On November 21, 2011, Dr. Balmaceda received the results of Rodriguez's cervical spine MRI showing C4-C7 "disc bulges, resulting in bilateral C4-C5 neural foramen stenosis with uncovertebral spurring." (R. 416.) On February 10, 2012, Rodriguez continued to complain of chronic back and neck pain that was "worse now." (R. 437-38.) However, Rodriguez was alert and oriented and in no acute distress with normal motor strength, reflexes and gait, and full range of motion. (R. 438.)

         On February 12, 2012, Dr. Balmaceda completed a spinal impairment questionnaire (R. 419-25), diagnosing Rodriguez with lumbar and cervical stenosis with a fair prognosis (R. 419). Dr. Balmaceda opined that Rodriguez had limited range of motion in her lumbar and cervical spine with paraspinal spasms in the cervical spine, lumbar spasms, abnormal gait, cervical spine crepitus, paraspinal trigger points, a positive left straight leg raise test, and was capable only of limited bending. (R. 419-20.) Dr. Balmaceda opined that, in an eight hour workday, Rodriguez could sit for two hours and stand/walk for one hour, and would have to get up and move around every one to two hours for a period of fifteen to twenty minutes before sitting again. (R. 422.) Dr. Balmaceda opined that Rodriguez occasionally could lift and carry five pounds, but never anything heavier. (R. 422-23.) According to Dr. Balmaceda, Rodriguez's pain was severe enough to frequently interfere with her attention and concentration, and her symptoms were expected to last at least 12 months. (R. 423.) Rodriguez's impairments, moreover, would cause her to be absent from work more than three times per month. (R. 424.) Dr. Balmaceda stated that Rodriguez's condition would interfere with her ability to keep her neck in a constant position and she could not perform a job that required her to do so. (Id.) Dr. Balmaceda further stated that Rodriguez suffered from depression and could not tolerate even a low stress work environment. (Id.) Dr. Balmaceda wrote that Rodriguez had psychological limitations, would need to avoid heights, and could not push, pull, kneel, bend or stoop. (R. 425.)

         On May 1 and July 18, 2012, Rodriguez complained of chronic, daily neck and back pain. (R. 673-74, 676-77.) Dr. Balmaceda wrote that "the pain is severe" and made worse by walking. (R. 674, 677.) Rodriguez had two epidural injections, most recently in January 2012, that "helped a bit" but "that it was not worth using another injection." (R. 674, 677.) Rodriguez appeared alert and oriented in no acute distress, with normal gait, reflexes and motor strength, and full range of motion. (R. 674-75, 677-78.) Dr. Balmaceda wrote on July 18, 2012 that she would order Rodriguez a lumbar brace to "prov[i]de stability and pre[]vent further neurological damage. The brace is required to make sure t[]hat her spi[]ne does not get worse, and that she does not require surgery at all." (R. 673.) On April 22, 2013, Rodriguez continued to complain of chronic neck and back pain; she was pregnant at the time with a delivery date sometime that month. (R. 670.) Dr. Balmaceda wrote that Rodriguez could not use a lumbar brace due to her pregnancy. (Id.) However, Rodriguez again appeared alert and oriented in no acute distress, with normal gait, reflexes and motor strength, and full range of motion. (R. 672.)

         On June 28, 2013, an MRI of Rodriguez's lumbar spine showed that "[a]ll lumbar vertebral bodies are maintained in height" with "no evidence of fracture, marrow replacement disease, spinal stenosis or intrathecal mass." (R. 598.) Rodriguez had mild disc desiccation at ¶ 3-L4 with a "2-3 mm smooth central disc bulge" without herniation or impingement; mild disc desiccation at ¶ 4-L5 without bulge or herniation; and mild disc desiccation at ¶ 5-S1 "with bilateral foraminal disc protrusions greater on the left than on the right" with impingement on the exiting left L5 root and crowding of the exiting right L5 root. (Id.) On July 27, 2013, Rodriguez underwent an electrodiagnostic study that revealed evidence of a subacute or chronic L5-S1 lumbo-sacral radiculopathy. (R. 597.)

         Rodriguez had an MRI of her cervical spine on September 27, 2013 that showed no interval change in appearance from her prior November 21, 2011 MRI. (R. 735; see page 10 above.) The MRI revealed minimal central disc bulges at ¶ 4-C5, C5-C6, and C6-C7 with mild bilateral uncovertebral joint hypertrophy. (R. 735.)

         Summarizing notes from prior visits that do not appear to be in the record, Dr. Balmaceda wrote that as of November 2013, Rodriguez occasionally had so much pain that she could "barely get her 5 month old son from the crib, " although her Flexeril and Tramadol medications "help[ed] a lot together." (R. 727.) In January 2014, Rodriguez noted moderate pain when standing along with neck pain; Dr. Balmaceda added that "[t]he epidurals helped in the past." (Id.)[3]

         Physical Therapists

         Rodriguez received physical therapy from Alexander Dolsky from November 22, 2010 through March 18, 2011. (R. 532-39.) On November 22, 2010, Rodriguez complained of lower back pain and moderate lumbar muscle spasms that "began a month ago without apparent reason." (R. 532.) Dolsky diagnosed Rodriguez with lumbar radiculopathy. (Id.) Dolsky's remaining notes through March 18, 2011 provide little detail (and are difficult to read) other than Rodriguez's continued complaints of low back pain, and Dolsky's note that she tolerated treatment well. (See R. 532-39.) In his final treatment note on March 18, 2011, Dolsky wrote that Rodriguez "shows gradual improvement, " but would benefit from continued physical therapy. (R. 537.)

         On April 18, 2012, physical therapist Dr. Rowell Arguelles completed a "To Whom it may concern" check-the-box form stating that Rodriguez had received physical therapy eight times at Washington Heights Physical Therapy since March 27, 2012 for neck and lower back pain, loss of motion and muscle weakness in her cervical and lumbar spine, and difficulties performing activities of daily living. (R. 549.) Dr. Arguelles opined that Rodriguez's prognosis was fair to good. (Id.)

         On April 24, 2012, Dr. Arguelles completed a multiple impairment questionnaire in which he diagnosed Rodriguez with cervical and lumbar radiculopathy with muscle spasms, and reiterated the symptoms outlined in his April 18, 2012 letter, as well as constant neck and lower back pain radiating to the upper and lower extremities. (R. 552-53.) Dr. Arguelles opined that Rodriguez's prognosis was fair to good. (R. 552.) In an eight hour workday, Dr. Arguelles opined that Rodriguez could only sit and stand for one hour, and she would need to get up and move around every one to two hours. (R. 554.) Rodriguez could occasionally lift and carry up to five pounds, but never more, and had significant limitations doing repetitive reaching, handling, fingering or lifting because of her disc bulges and cervical and lumbar spine stenosis. (R. 555.) Rodriguez had minimal limitations using her upper extremities to grasp, turn and manipulate objects, and moderate limitations using her arms for reaching, including overhead. (R. 555-56.) Dr. Arguelles stated that Rodriguez's symptoms would likely increase were she placed in a competitive work environment, and that her condition interfered with her ability to keep her neck in a constant position. (R. 556.) Rodriguez could perform no pushing, pulling, kneeling, bending or stooping and needed to avoid heights. (R. 558.) Dr. Arguelles opined that Rodriguez's symptoms were expected to last at least twelve months. (R. 557.)

         Dr. Frida Goldin

         On July 6, 2012, Dr. Frida Goldin completed a spinal impairment questionnaire. (R. 562-68.) Dr. Goldin diagnosed Rodriguez with chronic cervicalgia, chronic lower back pain, foraminal stenosis, facet joint hypertrophy, and degenerative joint disease of the lumbar spine. (R. 562.) Dr. Goldin found that Rodriguez's prognosis was poor. (Id.) Rodriguez had limited range of motion, tenderness and muscle spasms in her cervical and lumbar spine, along with sensory loss, reflex changes and muscle weakness in her lumbar spine and a positive straight leg raise test bilaterally. (R. 562-63.) Rodriguez suffered from chronic, constant neck and lower back pain; factors precipitating Rodriguez's pain included movement, standing, bending down, walking and sitting. (R. 564-65.) In an eight-hour day, Rodriguez could sit for three to four hours, and stand or walk for one to two hours; Rodriguez would have to get up and move around for five minutes every thirty to forty minutes before she could sit again. (R. 565.) Rodriguez could frequently lift and occasionally carry five pounds, and occasionally lift and carry ten pounds, but never anything heavier. (Id.) She could do no pushing, pulling, kneeling, bending or stooping. (R. 568.) Rodriguez's symptoms were severe enough to "[f]requently" interfere with her attention and concentration, and were likely to last at least twelve months. (R. 566.) Dr. Goldin opined that Rodriguez would be absent from work more than three times per month because of her condition. (R. 567.)

         On the same day she completed the spinal impairment questionnaire, July 6, 2012, Dr. Goldin completed a "To Whom It May Concern" letter in which she reiterated her findings. (R. 570-74.) Dr. Goldin wrote that Rodriguez complained of "persistent, severe, neck pain and stiffness, which increases with movement . . . [and] lower back pain with radiation to her bilateral legs . . . worsened with standing, bending down, walking and sitting." (R. 570.) Dr. Goldin diagnosed Rodriguez with chronic intractable cervicalgia, chronic intractable lower back pain, discogenic cervical spine derangement/degeneration, lumbar spine foraminal stenosis, facet joints hypertrophy, lumbar spine degenerative joint disease and discogenic degeneration, and bilateral lumbo-sacral radiculopathy. (R. 572-73.) Dr. Goldin expected these symptoms to last more than twelve months. (R. 573.) Dr. Goldin wrote that Rodriguez's prognosis was "[p]oor." (R. 574.)

         Psychiatric Impairments

         Industrial ...


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