The opinion of the court was delivered by: SIDNEY SCHENKIER, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
The plaintiff, Dennis Mangus, seeks judicial review of a final
decision denying his application for disability insurance
benefits, under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of the Social Security Act
(the "Act"). On October 1, 2001, Mr. Mangus applied for a period
of disability and disability insurance benefits ("DIB") for
alleged disorders of the back (discogenic and degenerative) (R.
64), with an onset date of November 1, 2000. An administrative
hearing was held before the Administrative Law Judge (the "ALJ")
on July 2, 2002, during which Mr. Mangus, a medical expert ("ME")
and a vocational expert ("VE") testified regarding his alleged
back disorders (R. 24-63). Mr. Mangus's claim was denied by
written decision of the ALJ on August 1, 2002 (R. 11-18). Mr.
Mangus then brought a request for review before the Social
Security Administration Appeals Council on September 26, 2002,
which included new evidence submitted by his attorney (R. 7). The
council denied the request for review on March 10, 2003 (R. 4-6).
The ALJ's decision therefore became the final decision of the
Commissioner. Mr. Mangus filed a timely complaint for administrative review
before this Court on April 7, 2003. The parties now have filed
cross motions for summary judgment: Mr. Mangus seeks reversal or
remand of the Commissioner's decision (doc. # 11), and the
Commissioner seeks a judgment affirming the decision (doc. # 14).
For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, and grants Mr.
Mangus's summary judgment motion seeking a remand*fn1
The following facts are taken from the administrative record,
the administrative hearing transcript, and the ALJ's written
decision. The Court will first discuss Mr. Mangus's personal and
medical history. Next, the Court will summarize the hearing
testimony and the ALJ's written decision.
Mr. Mangus is 53 years old and is married (R. 30). He lives
with his wife and step-daughter (R. 38). Mr. Mangus has completed
8-1/2 years of education and can read and write (R.30). Prior to
filing for disability, Mr. Mangus worked as a recycler from
August 1991 to December 1992 and as a water meter reader from
January 1994 to August 1997 (R. 104). Mr. Mangus has not been
employed since August 1997, but he has worked as a homemaker
during that time (R. 31).
Mr. Mangus testified that the pain in his back began bothering
him while he worked as a recycler (using an end loader), between
August 1991 and December 1992 (R. 33). In August 1997, soon after
he lost his job as a water meter reader, Mr. Mangus's back pain
began to intensify (R. 33). On November 13, 2000, Mr. Mangus went to see Dr. Cichowicz, a
naprapath,*fn2 who treated Mr. Mangus with hot packs,
electrical muscle stimulation, and naprapathic manipulation (R.
140). Dr. Cichowicz' treatment decreased Mr. Mangus's pain for
short periods of time, but the pain returned upon extended
periods of sitting (R. 140). As a result, Dr. Cichowicz referred
Mr. Mangus to an orthopedist (R. 140).
Dr. Brackett, an orthopedic surgeon, began seeing Mr. Mangus in
August 2001 (R. 147). On August 22, 2001, Mr. Mangus went to the
emergency room at MacNeal Hospital, complaining of back pain; he
was diagnosed with sciatica and given Vicodin (R. 15). In
September 2001, Mr. Mangus underwent an MRI (R. 150), which
showed degenerative disc disease at L5-S1 with a small extruded
fragment and disc bulges at L3-4 and L4-5 (R.15). Mr. Mangus
visited Dr. Brackett almost monthly from August 2001 through
January 2002 (R. 145); during this time period, Mr. Mangus
perceived that his back pain lessened (R. 145-46).
At the administrative hearing, Mr. Mangus testified that he has
not done any work for which he has been paid since November 1,
2000, his alleged onset date (R. 31). Mr. Mangus testified that
he lost his last job as a water meter reader in 1997 because he
stopped making political contributions (R. 32), although the
reason given to him by the City of Berwyn was that he was unable
to do the work (R. 12). Prior to working for Berwyn, Mr. Mangus
worked for Waste Management in Cicero, where he worked as a
recycler, operating an end loader (R. 32). Mr. Mangus testified
that at this job he had to do some lifting from time to time, including lifting
over twenty pounds*fn3 (R. 32-33). Mr. Mangus's job with
Waste Management ended in December 1992 because his back began
bothering him, although he did not know he had a back problem at
the time because the pain was not as persistent (R. 33). After
the Berwyn job ended in August 1997, Mr. Mangus did not look for
work because he "really . . . started having trouble with [his]
back" (R. 33). He did not seek employment outside the home after
leaving that job.
Mr. Mangus testified that he has current health problems which
would interfere with working. These problems include pain in his
back and right leg (R. 34). For example, Mr. Mangus testified
that his right leg is half numb and certain movement, such as
turns of the leg, causes a "jabbing pain" in his back (R. 34).
Mr. Mangus testified that he is able to sit for forty to
forty-five minutes at most before he needs to walk again (R. 35).
After walking for ten to fifteen minutes, he then can resume
sitting for another thirty minutes (R. 35). Mr. Mangus indicated
similar problems with standing (R. 35).
When the ALJ asked Mr. Mangus how far he can walk, Mr. Mangus
testified that he is able to walk his dog about one block three
times per week, at most (R. 35). Climbing stairs is difficult for
him, and although he is able to bend at the knees, if he stoops
to his feet, he cannot stand up again because his right leg has
grown weak; he does not bend at the back (R. 36). Mr. Mangus
testified that in May 2002 he hurt his back while cutting the
grass (R. 36). When the ALJ asked if Mr. Mangus could lift twenty
pounds, Mr. Mangus answered that, although he does the laundry
(R. 39), he does not carry a basket of laundry, which he thinks is less
than twenty pounds, because he thinks this activity might hurt
his back (R. 37).
Mr. Mangus testified that he keeps his daily routine simple
because his back feels different depending upon what activity he
does (R. 41). Mr. Mangus's day-to-day activities include watching
television and planning the evening meal (R. 40). Mr. Mangus is
also able to tend to his personal hygiene (R. 38); fix minor
things around the house (R. 39); and drive, although he uses both
feet because his right leg is numb and he fears his right foot
will not respond quickly enough in an emergency (R. 42).
Additionally, he drives to do grocery shopping but is unable to
sit long enough to drive long distances (R. 43). He recently
purchased a cane, although he has not used it (R. 44).
The ALJ then questioned Mr. Mangus about his medical history.
Mr. Mangus testified that his medications include Zocor for
cholesterol, Vasotec for blood pressure, and Darvocet for his
back, when needed (R. 37). With respect to actual use, Mr. Mangus
indicated that he had not taken Darvocet ...