The opinion of the court was delivered by: Facciola, United States Magistrate Judge.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Pursuant to Local Civil Rule 72.3, this matter has been referred to
me, a Magistrate Judge, for the purpose of hearing and recommendation.
I, therefore, hereby issue this Report and Recommendation based upon my
review of the administrative determination in this case.
Ms. Velma J. Martin ("Martin") is a 64 year-old former secretary. She
last worked in the Spring of 1993. Administrative Record at 54 ("R.").
Her health has deteriorated since that time. She suffers from a number of
physical and psychological ailments which she claims that her render her
disabled under 42 U.S.C. § 423 (1994) and therefore entitle her to
Supplemental Security Benefits and Disability Insurance Benefits. The
Social Security Administration denied her initial application for
benefits. On appeal of that decision, her claim was remanded by an
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") to a state agency for reconsideration of
her condition due to new evidence of a mental impairment. (R. at
253-255.) She was denied benefits by the agency and appealed that
decision to another ALJ (R. at 274, 282.) The second ALJ held a hearing
in which a vocational expert testified that there was no work Martin
could perform. The ALJ nevertheless concluded that Martin was capable of
performing medium work resuming her former work as a secretary. (R. at
27-31). Martin applied to have the decision reviewed by an Appeals
Council pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.970 and 416.1470 (2000). The
Council denied review. (R. at 6.) Martin then filed this civil action
against the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("Commissioner") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g) and 1383(c)(3)
(1994) to receive the denied benefits.
Medical Evidence of Physical Impairment
Ms. Martin has had two treating physicians in the past ten years. (R.
at 226.) She transferred from the care of Dr. Henry Williams to that of
Dr. Lewis Marshall on February 1, 1994. (R. at 226.) According to Dr.
Marshall, Martin complained of migratory joint pain, recurrent
infections, chronic hypertension, hiatal hernia, and myalgias. (R. at
When Martin's case was remanded for consideration of mental ailments,
Dr. Gary Koritzinsky examined Martin for the Social Security
Administration. (R. at 357.) The consultation took place on September
13, 1995. In contrast to Dr. Taubin, Dr. Koritzinsky found that Martin
did not have an arthritic impairment. (R. at 359.) He did find, however,
that Martin suffered from obstructive airways disease. (R. at 360.) He
further concluded that Martin suffered from hypertension, chronic fatigue
syndrome, arthralgias, and depression. (R. at 360.) He opined that Martin
"may want to consider formal psychiatric evaluation to determine whether
her depression and chronic fatigue meet criteria for disability." (R. at
Medical Evidence of Psychological Impairment
According to Drs. Marshall and Koritzinsky, Martin suffers from
depression. (R. at 228, 360.) From 1994 through 1996, Martin underwent
two psychiatric examinations and testing with a psychologist to determine
the affect of her mental ailments on her ability to maintain substantial
On August 29, 1994, Doctor Richard Ratner held an extended psychiatric
interview with Martin. (R. at 247.) Subsequent to the interview, Dr.
Ratner administered a Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory ("MCMI-II")
(R. at 247.) This test is used for psychological examination and
screening and is scored on a computer. (R. at 247.) The doctor based his
findings on both the psychiatric interview and the Millon test. (R. at
During the mental status interview, the doctor noted that Martin was
oriented to all spheres, alert, and attentive. (R. at 250.) She could
repeat six numbers forward, five numbers backward, and perform "serial
sevens" without error. (R. at 250.) Dr. Ratner found her of at least
normal intelligence. (R. at 250.) She appeared situationally depressed
and there appeared to be no signs suggestive of a thought disorder or of
delusions or paranoia. (R. at 250.) The mental status interview thus
revealed a non-psychotic woman with no evidence of organic deterioration
who tended to focus on her physical problems. (R. at 250.)
The MCMI-II psychological test, by contrast, revealed markedly
different results than the mental status interview. (R. at 251.) The
MCMI-II test found Martin's condition consistent with a paranoid
disorder, having ideas of "reference" and irrational jealousy. (R. at
251.) She appeared to have an anxiety disorder and a somatoform
disorder. (R. at 251.) Dr. Ratner found that she presented a "difficult
case in which the clinical picture appears benign . . . while the
psychological testing reveals a very disturbed woman who must work hard to
keep the lid on her powerful and troubling emotions." (R. at 251.) Dr.
Ratner concluded that Martin was probably disabled for useful work and
appeared to have been for the past year.
On August 21, 1995, Dr. Richard Schaengold conducted a consultative
psychiatric exam of Martin for the Social Security Administration. (R. at
354.) Martin performed some of the same recitation and memory exercises
with Dr. Schaengold as she had with Dr. Ratner. (R. at 355.) Dr.
Schaengold did not at any time perform any diagnostic testing of Martin.
Martin underwent a series of diagnostic psychological tests on August
2, 1996, administered by Dr. Ronald Wynne. (R. at 385.) Dr. Wynne used
behavioral and interview observations, Human Figure Drawings, the Beck
Depression Scale, a Coolidge Axis II Inventory ("CATI"), the Rorschach
test, and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale with a vocabulary subtest
to evaluate Martin. (R. at 385.) Dr. Wynne found Martin to be
cooperative, motivated to share her thoughts and feelings, and of at
least average intelligence. (R. at 386.) However, he also observed "a
highly strung manner of expressing herself, as though experiencing
chronic tension and anxiety." (R. at 369.) During the evaluation, Martin
expressed great frustration about her emotional, family and vocational
problems (R. at 386).
Dr. Wynne's diagnostic testing revealed a woman who was "significantly
depressed". (R. at 386.) Dr. Wynne described Martin as a woman of above
average intelligence who had problems with logical thinking, mood
control, and interpersonal relationships. (R. at 388.) These problems
seemed to be tied to her chronic emotional problems and her tendency to
be preoccupied with her physical condition. (R. at 388.) He concluded
that her coping skills seem to be related more to her mental health than
to symptoms caused by physical disorders. (R. at 388.) Dr. Wynne
ultimately recommended intensive psychotherapy and possibly medication
for Martin. (R. at 389.) Finally, he urged that Martin not seek
employment until her mental condition improved. (R. at 389.)
At the hearing held on March 3, 1997, before Administrative Law Judge
C.J. Sturek ("the ALJ"), Martin testified as to the composition of her
household, her education, her prior occupation, and her daily
activities. She also testified as to the physical and mental limitations
created by her ailments and medications. As of the date of the hearing,
Martin lived with her nineteen year-old son. (R. at 51.) She had taken
several years of college courses and was 6 months from earning a BA when
she stopped taking classes. (R. at 53-54, 70-71.) She worked as a
full-time secretary in a church until January 1993. (R. at 54-55.) At
Martin's most recent job, she worked as a part-time secretary for the
D.C. Apartment Improvement Agency from February 1993 until April 1993.
(R. at 56-59.)
Martin testified that she spends most of the day painting, watching
television, and sleeping. (R. at 66, 69.) She needs to rest when she
walks or stays on her feet more than 20 minutes at a time. (R. at 53.)
She shares housework with her son. At her job as a secretary she would
carry 20 pound files occasionally but never more than 50 pounds. (R. at
58.) She complained that even picking up her great grandson twice makes
her tired and causes pain due to her hiatal hernia. (R. at 76.) She is
able to groom herself properly, as all the doctors who examined her
noticed. In the mornings she helps her son prepare for school and then
takes a number of prescription medications. (R. at 74.) She takes her
medication in the morning and then naps for three hours from around 8:00
to 11:00 AM. (R. at 77.) She goes to bed around 12:00 AM each night. (R.
at 77-78.) From 11 a.m. to midnight, she is inactive. (R. at 78.)
Vocational expert Jan Howard testified at the ALJ's recommendation.
(R. at 78.) Ms. Wagnor used Martin's testimony to determine whether,
considering her age, education, prior work experience, and information
which the expert had about the national job market, occupations exist
which Martin could perform. The vocational expert opined that Martin's
occupation would be classified as light level file
clerk, but that due to her sleep pattern there was no work that she could
perform. (R. at 81-82.)
The Social Security Act allows a person to file a civil action to
obtain review of a decision by the Commissioner of Social Security.
42 U.S.C. § 405 (g) (1994), 42 U.S.C. § 1383 (c)(3) (1994). The
final decision of the Commissioner is conclusive if supported by
substantial evidence and untainted by an error of law. Davis v.
Shalala., 862 F. Supp. 1, 4 (D.D.C. 1994).
It is the duty of the ALJ to make findings of fact and to resolve
conflicts in the evidence. See Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th
Cir. 1990). In reviewing an administrative decision, a court may not
determine the weight of the evidence, nor substitute its judgment for
that of the Secretary if her decision is based on substantial evidence.
See id. Instead, the reviewing court must carefully scrutinize the entire
record to determine whether the Secretary, acting through the ALJ, has
analyzed all the evidence and has sufficiently explained the weight he
has given to obviously probative material. See Davis, 862 F. Supp. at 2.
Because the broad purposes of ...