The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. MICHAEL MAHONEY, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Donna F. Boyd ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration ("Commissioner"). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
1383(c)(3). The Commissioner's final decision denied Plaintiff's
application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") pursuant to
Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act").
42 U.S.C. § 1381(a). This matter is before the Magistrate Judge pursuant to
consents filed by both parties on October 27, 2003. See
28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73.
Plaintiff filed for DIB on October 16, 2000, alleging
disability on January 31, 1995. (Tr. 89-91). Plaintiff's
application for benefits was denied on January 18, 2001. (Tr.
53). On March 7, 2001, Plaintiff filed a request for
reconsideration. (Tr. 57). Plaintiff's request for
reconsideration was denied on April 23, 2001. (Tr. 59). Plaintiff
then filed a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ") on May 17, 2001. (Tr. 62). Plaintiff appeared, with
counsel, before an ALJ on October 4, 2001. (Tr. 14). In a
decision dated February 22, 2002, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not entitled to DIB. (Tr. 81). On February 27, 2002,
Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 12). On July
25, 2003, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review. (Tr. 6).
Plaintiff's date of birth is December 5, 1956 and was
forty-seven as of this writing. (Tr. 20). At the time of her
hearing in October 2001, Plaintiff lived at a recovery house and
had lived there for approximately ten months. (Tr. 19). At the
recovery house, Plaintiff had a bedroom and shared kitchen and
bathroom facilities with other residents. (Tr. 20). Her assigned
chore in the house was to do the dishes. (Tr. 37). Plaintiff
received a GED and was enrolled in two community college courses
at the time of her hearing. (Tr. 29-30). She does not have a car
nor does she have a driver's license. (Tr. 33). She uses the bus
for transportation. (Id.). Plaintiff claims to be disabled as a
result of the following impairments: hepatitis C, arthritis in
the lumbar spine, scoliosis, dysthymia, varicose veins in the
left leg, and a history of drug and alcohol abuse in sustained
Plaintiff worked as a gum packer at Warner-Lambert from 1998 to
1999. (Tr. 108). The gum packing job consisted of sitting at a
conveyer belt, packing gum coming off the conveyer belt into
boxes, and sliding the boxes along another conveyer belt. (Tr.
22-23). Plaintiff was only required to lift the gum but not the
boxes. (Id.). Because Plaintiff had to stand intermittently
throughout the day, she could not keep up with the flow of the
gum and interrupted the packing process as a result. (Id.).
Additionally, Plaintiff had trained others to perform the job and
was still using illegal drugs during this period of her
For a two week period, Plaintiff worked as a food preparer in a
fast food restaurant. (Tr. 23). She was making sandwiches and deep frying french fries but stated
the job only lasted two weeks because she repeatedly burned her
hands on a deep frier. (Id.).
C. Physical Ailment Testimony
Plaintiff testified her orthopedic doctor prescribed a cane
that she had at the hearing. (Tr. 23-24). She indicated she had
bad pain in her lower back above the tail bone that was always
present but worse in the winter. (Tr. 24-25). Plaintiff said she
was paralyzed when she was younger and had six plastic vertebrae.
(Id.). She also stated her spine was curved. (Id.).
Plaintiff stated she had no sensation in her right hand and arm
and up to her right ear with the exception of some sensation
above her right elbow. (Tr. 25-27). She testified these
impairments resulted from a domestic violence situation six years
prior and were permanent. (Id.). Plaintiff can use her right
hand to pick things up but has to monitor her hand when she does
because she forgets she is holding things and often drops things.
When asked if she had any pain in her neck, Plaintiff responded
that she has an itching pain inside of her head. (Tr. 27-28). She
indicated that a doctor told her the itching was related to scar
tissue from the abuse and that the only remedy is to apply a cold
Plaintiff testified she has problems sleeping. (Tr. 28). She
uses a blanket to prop up her neck instead of a pillow and has
problems both getting to sleep and waking after falling asleep.
(Id.). She indicated she gets approximately four hours of
uninterrupted sleep per night. (Id.).
Plaintiff can only walk roughly half a block before her legs
give out and can only stand for roughly ten minutes before her
back begins to hurt. (Tr. 28-29). She also can sit for
approximately ten minutes before her back pain sets in. (Id.).
Plaintiff indicated she had hepatitis and was depressed. (Tr.
30-31). She claimed to be fatigued as a result of the hepatitis but got no relief from the
fatigue after resting. (Id.). She also indicated she was taking
anti-depressant medication and had access to counseling through
her recovery program. (Id.). Plaintiff did not partake in any
social activities outside of attending school and counseling
sessions. (Id.). She was visibly teary at the hearing. (Tr.
Plaintiff further testified she had swelling in her legs most
of the time and her left leg was an inch and a half larger than
her right. (Tr. 32-34). She claimed part of her ankle bone was
removed when she was younger and her circulation was impaired as
a result of the surgery. (Id.). Plaintiff's legs gave out
approximately nine times in the last year when she was walking,
and she has scarring on her legs from the falls. (Id.).
Additionally, she has constant pain in both knees that gets worse
when she walks more than half a block and in humid or cold
weather. (Tr. 38-39). Her orthopedic doctor has administered
cortisone shots in both knees. (Id.). Plaintiff ...