The claimant bears the burden of furnishing evidence of disability. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5)(A).
The administrative law judge found that Cruz could perform light work as of December 18, 1990. This court finds that there is no substantial evidence upon which the administrative law judge could base his opinion that Cruz was able to work only six weeks after a laminectomy and a discectomy. The relevant evidence is not adequate to support such a conclusion. Rather, the relevant evidence indicates that Cruz continued to be disabled and unable to work as of at least the time of her hearing. At the time the administrative law judge finds Cruz able to work (December 18, 1990), Cruz's doctor indicates concern that Cruz try to rest and not injure herself so close to her surgery. See Record at p. 175. Furthermore, Cruz testified at her hearing that as of a week before the hearing she had not been released to go to work by Dr. Hemley. See Record at p. 42. Dr. Hemley's opinion is relevant in evaluating the situation as even Cruz's physician, Dr. Bienier, indicated that she would need an assessment by Dr. Hemley to release Cruz to go back to work. See Record at p. 184.
Given the lack of sufficient evidence to support Cruz's ability to work as of December 18, 1990, the issue remains of whether Cruz was disabled for a continuous period of at least twelve months such that she is entitled to SSI benefits. Some discrepancy exists as to when Cruz's disability started. The administrative law judge indicates in his findings of fact that Cruz was unable to work as of June 20, 1990, the date she filed her application for SSI. Grins, though, asserted that the date she was disabled was either June 1, 1990, as indicated on her SSI application, or January 1990, as indicated on her disability report. This discrepancy becomes irrelevant, however, since the required continuous twelve-month period is satisfied based upon Dr. Stravino's reports of September 19, 1991 and October 10, 1991. When Dr. Stravino examined Cruz, she was able to walk only with discomfort. Cruz last worked outside of the home in 1989. At the times of Dr. Stravino's examination, Cruz's daughter assisted her with her housework. Also at the times Dr. Stravino examined Cruz, Cruz wore a back brace at home, generally was uncomfortable, and had a limited ability to function. The evidence in the record indicates that Cruz was disabled for a continuous period of not less than twelve months, even where the twelve month period started, assuming arguendo, the later date of June 20, 1990, and continued at least through October 10, 1991. Since Cruz satisfied the Act's requirements to be eligible for SSI, the Secretary shall calculate and pay the benefits to Cruz.
The administrative law judge's decision that Cruz was able to return to work six weeks after surgery is not supported by substantial evidence. Cruz is entitled to supplemental security income in view of her inability to perform any substantial gainful activity by reason of her impairment which has lasted for a continuous period of not less than twelve months.
An appropriate order follows.
AND NOW, this 22nd day of March, 1993, upon consideration of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, it is hereby ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED and the Secretary's decision is REVERSED. Summary judgment is entered in favor of the Plaintiff for the reasons stated in this court's memorandum of the same date. The matter is REMANDED to the Secretary for the calculation and payment of benefits.