the reason for rejecting the opinion of three physicians and adopting the opinion of another, particularly when the diagnosis of all physicians was anthracosilicosis in an advanced stage.
The scope of our review of the Secretary's findings of fact is governed by the following statutory provision:
'The court shall have power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Secretary, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing. The findings of the Secretary as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.' 42 U.S.C.A. 405, 1960 Supp.
Our judicial duty has been further defined by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in the recent case of Braun v. Ribicoff, 292 F.2d 354, as follows:
'In Boyd v. Folsom, 1958, 257 F.2d 778, we defined the scope of the review to be applied to the Secretary's decisions by United States district courts. We said, id. at page 781, that ultimate facts must be reached by a process of legal reasoning based on the legal significance to be afforded primary evidentiary facts and that therefore ultimate findings of fact by the Secretary were reviewable, citing Goldman v. Folsom, 3 Cir., 1957, 246 F.2d 776, 779. We also stated that, 'Our judicial duty * * * is to satisfy ourselves that the agency determination has warrant in the record, viewing that record as a whole, and a reasonable basis in law. Universal Camera Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 1951, 340 U.S. 474, 490, 71 S. Ct. 456, 95 L. Ed. 456." In the case at bar, the Hearing Examiner based his denial of benefits to the plaintiff upon the finding that the plaintiff had failed to prove that he was unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity. We think that this was an 'ultimate fact' as that term is used in the Braun case, supra, and that consequently we have a duty to extend our review of that finding beyond the mere inquiry as to whether it is supported by substantial evidence, albeit not to substitute our own conclusion for that of the Hearing Examiner.
Guided by these standards of review, we think that the agency determination in this case did not have warrant in the record as a whole; at least absent a finding by the Hearing Examiner on the relative qualifications or credibility of the physicians which led him to reject the conclusions of three and adopt the conclusion of one.
Furthermore, we think that the conclusion that the plaintiff failed to prove his inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity had no reasonable basis in law.
In the case of Klimaszewski v. Flemming, D.C.E.D.Pa.1959, 176 F.Supp. 927, at page 932, Chief Judge Biggs (sitting by assignment) stated:
'The word 'any' (meaning any substantial gainful activity) must be read in the light of what is reasonably possible, not of what is conceivable. The statute must be given a reasonable interpretation. It is a remedial statute and must be construed liberally. It was not the intention of Congress to impose a test so severe as that required by the Secretary and to exact as a condition precedent to the maintenance of a claim the elimination of every possibility of gainful employment.' In the case at bar, the claimant has completed only a seventh grade education, and has worked as a miner ever since he first began working. The opinion of Dr. Wolffe that claimant would be a good 'maintenance man' is not substantial evidence in support of the Hearing Examiner's conclusion that plaintiff failed to prove his inability to work when viewed in light of the whole record, applying the legal standard of the Klimaszewski case.
For the foregoing reasons, we enter the following Order:
And now, to wit, this 21st day of July, 1961, it is ordered that the decision of the Secretary is reversed.