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SELDOMRIDGE v. RIBICOFF

April 27, 1962

John O. SELDOMRIDGE
v.
Hon. Abraham J. RIBICOFF, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LUONGO

On July 29, 1959, plaintiff filed applications with the Bureau of Old Age and Survivors Insurance of the Social Security Administration, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, to establish a period of disability under § 216(i) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 416(i), and for payment of disability insurance benefits under § 223(a), 42 U.S.C.A. § 423(a). The basis for the applications was an alleged inability to work commencing January 16, 1959, because of 'heart trouble, kidney and lungs'.

The Bureau denied the applications and upon reconsideration affirmed its decision. On May 19, 1960, at plaintiff's request, a hearing was conducted by a Hearing Examiner who, on June 6, 1960, filed a report denying plaintiff's applications. Plaintiff's request for review of the Hearing Examiner's decision was granted by the Appeals Council and additional evidence submitted by plaintiff was made part of the record. Thereafter, the Appeals Council denied the request for review of the Hearing Examiner's decision.

 This action was instituted pursuant to § 205(g) of the Act, 42 U. S.C.A. § 405(g), to review the final decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, denying the claims. After defendant's answer was filed both parties moved for summary judgment on the certified record of the proceedings. The cross-motions for summary judgment are before us.

 Since the action of the Appeals Council constitutes the official act of the Secretary, plaintiff is permitted by the section referred to above to seek judicial review of that decision. That review is limited by § 205(g) to the extent that,

 'The findings of the Secretary as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive, * * *.'

 In order to establish a period of disability or qualify for disability benefits plaintiff must show he has been under a continuous disability as that term is defined by the Act. Under § 216(i)(1) and § 223(c)(2), 42 U.S.C.A. § 416(i) (1) and § 423(c)(2),

 '* * * the term 'disability' means * * * inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which can be expected to result in death or to be of long-continued and indefinite duration, * * *'

 The Hearing Examiner concluded,

 '* * * that the claimant has failed to establish that he has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments of sufficient severity * * * that actually precluded him from engaging in any substantial gainful activity * * *'

 This conclusion was bottomed on the following findings:

 (a) plaintiff does have hypertensive heart disease;

 (b) disability in cases of heart disease may range from 0 to 100%;

 (c) plaintiff failed to show that his cardiac reserve was so reduced as to preclude any type of ...


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