The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

Sarmento v. Astrue, Slip Copy, 2012 WL 1559705 (D.Mass., May 1, 2012), Civil Action No. 10–11724–RWZ

Date: 
05/01/2012
Author: 
Zobel, District Judge
Judge Zobel summarized the case as follows: "The record paints a picture of a woman (1) who was gainfully employed for 19 years; (2) who had a serious workplace accident requiring three days of hospital care, (3) that resulted in (I) years of treatments and therapies and prescription drugs (all of which have proved relatively ineffective), (ii) remarkably consistent complaints of pain (operating in the same manner) over a lengthy period under the care of numerous physicians, and (iii) severe limitations on her daily activities; and (4) whose symptoms have induced depression and significant weight gain. The ALJ simply did not provide any reason why plaintiff's complaints of pain and description of her functional limitations should not be believed, other than that they appear to be inconsistent with parts of the medical record. That, as a matter of law, is not enough. Therefore, the determination of the ALJ to reject plaintiff's credibility is not supported by substantial evidence.
 
Given the lengthy history of this case, the number of reviews and contradictory decisions, and the extensive record, further consideration is not warranted."

The court provided guidance on the issues of evalaution of objective medical evidence and consideration of obesity:

"While the ALJ did sufficiently develop the record with regard to the Avery factors, she did not adequately explain either her application of them, or the reason for disregarding any of the evidence supportive of plaintiff other than her disagreement with the objective medical record. Specifically, the ALJ cited mild MRI results and the fact that none of plaintiff's physicians recommended surgery as the basis for her determination. However, as the relevant authority directs, a disconnect between the objective medical record and plaintiff's testimony merely starts the credibility analysis; it does not conclude it."

"...While the ALJ did add obesity as one of plaintiff's severe impairments at step 3 she did not address the effect of plaintiff's weight gain on her condition and, by extension, her credibility. The ALJ noted that plaintiff was 5′ 2″ with a body weight of 200 pounds. This weight gain certainly corroborates plaintiff's accounts of the effect of debilitating pain on her emotional well being and ultimately on her everyday activities. Nearly every physician in the record also noted that plaintiff had a muted affect and was suffering from depression, and its onset coincided with her injury and progressively worsened."

(In addition to the May 2012 decision which you can access by clicking the "Go to Website" link below, see https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1625397629645738617&q=Sarmento+v.+Astrue,++(D.Mass.,+May+1,+2012),+Civil+Action+No.+10%E2%80%9311724%E2%80%93RWZ&hl=en&as_sdt=2,22 for a subsequent August 2012 decision.


Limit Offer