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May 1, 1991

RUBY BROOKS, Plaintiff,

Milton I. Shadur, United States District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR


 Ruby Brooks ("Brooks") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary") denying Brooks' claim for supplemental security income ("SSI") benefits under the Social Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 416(i), 423 and 1381a. *fn1" As is customary in these cases, the parties have filed Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56 cross-motions for summary judgment. *fn2" For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, Brooks' motion is granted and Secretary's is denied.


 Work Background and Medical History

 Brooks, born on February 16, 1933, was 57 years old at the time of Secretary's decision. She had received seven and a half years of formal education. Her most recent job was working as a lining presser for Hart, Schaffner and Marx in Chicago, Illinois from 1974 until November 1988. In that month she became ill at work, and she was later placed on long-term disability from her job.

 Brooks' work as a presser of suit jacket linings required her first to lift and carry bundles of jackets weighing more than 20 and up to 25 pounds every 1 to 2 hours and then to press the linings of the jackets. At her hearing before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Byron Samuelson, the ALJ and Brooks' attorney questioned her about the weight of the bundles she was required to lift (R. 27):

Q Now when you say heavy, would it [be] more or less than 20 pounds?
A Sure.
Q Okay. Would it be --
ALJ: More or less?
CLMT [Brooks]: More.
ALJ: More?
CLMT: More.
Q Okay. Going up to how much, would it [be] more or less than 25 pounds?
A No, I don't think so, maybe --
Q So the -- how often would you have to lift up to 25 pounds?
A It's whatever you'd say as the boss, I do piecework -- I done piecework, rather. So fast as these things run by.
Q Then you just pick up another one?
A Right. You reach over to the next land and get another bundle. It keeps moving.

 That testimony is wholly consistent with Brooks' initial complaint in her Disability Report ("DR") (R. 77), in which she stated that the heaviest weight lifted and the weight frequently lifted was between 20 and 25 pounds. *fn3" Brooks' job further required her to stand all day and to walk, bend and reach in order to pick up the bundles of jackets.

 Brooks also testified at her hearing that she suffered from shortness of breath, lack of strength and chest pain when she got excited, and that she often got nervous (R. 29-30, 32, 41). She testified that she could not perform her past job because it was too hot and too stressful (R. 33) and that she could no longer "keep up" the pace on the line, where speed was a requisite part of her piecework job, in which other people on the end of the production line were dependent on her productivity (R. 33). Brooks reported that she could walk only about half a block and could now do only minimal lifting, but that she had no problem in sitting (R. 34, 36, 38). Brooks also testified that she had back problems that precluded her from returning to her previous job.

 Brooks was first treated for her medical problems on November 10, 1988, when the treatment note said that she complained of shortness of breath, palpitations, and "intermittent chest tightness" (R. 88). She was diagnosed as having hypertension and possible coronary artery disease ("CAD") (id.). On November 21, 1988 Brooks underwent a treadmill exercise test to evaluate the CAD diagnosis. That test was terminated after nine minutes because of shortness of breath. Brooks did not, however, experience chest pain. Dr. Lalchand Goyal, a cardiologist, reported that the test was "borderline positive for ischemia at optimal level of exercise," but that Brooks retained a "good exercise capacity, normal heart rate and blood pressure response," and she had "no arrhythmias at rest or at exercise" (R. 93).

 Brooks was hospitalized for further evaluation on December 8 and 9, 1988. She was discharged with diagnoses of CAD and hypertension. On December 20, 1988 Dr. J. Castaneda confirmed those diagnoses and reported (R. 114) that Brooks' left posterior descending coronary artery had an 80% occlusion. He also reported that Brooks' blood pressure was above normal and that she had experienced chest pain, which had been fully alleviated by prescriptions of Cardizem and aspirin. Dr. Castaneda related that he was not aware that Brooks had any back pain or any other problems that would limit her work-related activities, and he had noted no abnormal clinical findings in that respect.

 Brooks underwent a successful angioplasty on her distal right coronary artery on January 5, 1989. That operation reduced the narrowing of Brooks' artery from 90% (which had been a later angiogram reading) to 15% (R. 119). On February 9, 1989 she took another treadmill exercise test, which again lasted only nine minutes due to Brooks' general fatigue. Dr. Maria H. Balkoura said that Brooks had a hypertensive response, but that she displayed good exercise tolerance, with no chest pain or arrhythmia (R. 120). Brooks stated that after the surgery she continued to have the same problems that she had before (R. 29-30).

 Brooks' residual functional capacity ("RFC") was evaluated twice. On the first occasion, December 28, 1988, a non-examining physician Dr. Albert Kwedar concluded that Brooks was limited to maximum lifting and carrying of 20 pounds, frequent lifting and carrying of 10 pounds and standing/walking about 6 hours per 8 hour day (R. 115). That combination of factors meant that Brooks could perform "light work." *fn4" Then on March 15, 1989 -- after the angioplasty -- Dr. Jose Luis Gonzalez concurred in the earlier assessment, noting however ...

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