general equivalency diploma. From 1965 to June 1982 he worked as a fitter for Westinghouse Electric company, assembling parts for generators used in nuclear power plants. He alleges that hyperthyroidism, muscle pain, fatigability, nervousness, and a mental disorder render him disabled from any employment.
The Administrative Law Judge found that plaintiff could not return to his past relevant work but that he had the capacity to perform sedentary work. The ALJ did not consider plaintiff's testimony about pain and restricted activities credible. The ALJ did recognize that plaintiff has "severe possible myopathy," hyperthyroidism, and a chronic dysthymic disorder.
We must affirm the Secretary if her decision is supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g). Substantial evidence is that evidence adequate to support a conclusion in a reasonable person's mind. We find that the Secretary's decision does not have this support in the record.
The ALJ is bound to consider the whole record in context. He may not be selective in extracting comments from medical reports to minimize the evidence of plaintiff's impairments. In assessing plaintiff's residual functional capacity, the ALJ relied heavily on a form completed by Dr. Michael Hodgson in December 1984. Record at 21. Dr. Hodgson's evaluation is qualified throughout, but the ALJ does not acknowledge this. As to plaintiff's ability to lift, Dr. Hodgson commented: "fluctuating strength: 20 pounds at all times. 20, at least, intermittently." As to standing: "2-3 hours with pauses, long-term uncertain." As to sitting: "2-3 hours with pauses, long-term uncertain." "As to other physical functions: [plaintiff] becomes weak after working; after a first exertion he can do progressively less." Record at 194-195. Even apart from overlooking these qualifying comments, the ALJ's reliance on this form as evidence of plaintiff's capacity even for sedentary work is questionable; if anything, the figures demonstrate the limited amount of time plaintiff can spend sitting or standing. 20 C.F.R. Part 404.1567(a); Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403 (3d Cir. 1979).
In addition, the ALJ has drawn some inconsistent conclusions in important areas. For example, in discussing plaintiff's pain, the ALJ states that "Despite his subjective complaints, there is no objective evidence which confirms the presence of a debilitating disease process. . . . the objective findings of a debilitating disease are minimal." Record at 22. This observation is contrary to the medical evidence -- for example, the reports of Drs. Richard Stadtmiller, record at 124, 133, 183; Lawrence Kagen, record at 114, 152; Michael Hodgson, record at 156; and psychiatry professor Christopher Ryan, record at 160-65. Nor does it comport with the ALJ's own findings of severe possible myopathy, hyperthyroidism, and chronic dysthymic disorder. Record at 23. In further evaluating plaintiff's complaint's of pain, the ALJ relied on plaintiff's "recitation of activities which includes washing dishes, washing clothes, and visiting [which] reflect a residual functional capacity . . . compatible with sedentary work activity on a sustained level." Record at 22. This is a plain overstatement. Plaintiff's actual testimony from the hearing consists of the following:
ALJ: Do the dishes?