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KUPCHELLA v. FINCH

July 15, 1970

William A. KUPCHELLA, Plaintiff,
v.
Robert H. FINCH, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, Defendant


Gourley, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY

This is an action filed pursuant to Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 405(g), wherein plaintiff seeks judicial review of the decision of the Hearing Examiner of the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration. Plaintiff filed applications with the Bureau of Disability Insurance on April 10, 1957, October 8, 1964, and October 29, 1968 for disability insurance benefits under Section 223 and for a period of disability under Section 216(i) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 416(i) and 423. In each instance, the claims were disallowed. A request for hearing was filed on June 27, 1969 and, after a hearing conducted on September 10, 1969, the Hearing Examiner similarly denied plaintiff's claims. Review of the decision of the Hearing Examiner was denied by the Appeals Council, and plaintiff promptly sought review in this Court.

 In response to the Complaint, defendant filed an Answer followed by a Motion for Summary Judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant accompanied the Motion with a duly certified copy of the administrative record. Subsequently, counsel for the respective parties filed written briefs in support of their positions and agreed to waive oral argument upon the Motion. Upon review of the administrative record, the pleadings of counsel and the briefs submitted, the Court is compelled to grant the Motion for Summary Judgment.

 Pertaining to the scope of judicial review, Section 205(g), supra, provides as follows:

 
"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. * * *"

 Under this Section and Section 10(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C.A. § 706, the Court is limited to "ascertaining whether on the record as a whole there is substantial evidence to support the Secretary's findings of fact." Goldman v. Folsom, 246 F.2d 776, 778 (3d Cir. 1957).

 Plaintiff is fifty-four years of age, married and the father of two children, a daughter who is married and a son who is stationed in the Army. He and his wife reside with a bachelor brother-in-law to whom he pays a rent of fifty-dollars per month. After completing one year of high school plaintiff worked in coal mines for approximately eighteen years. While employed in the coal mines, he performed maintenance work, laid track and set up props, but did not operate machines or equipment.

 An interruption in plaintiff's otherwise continual employment in the coal mines occurred in the period from 1942 to October of 1943 when plaintiff served in the United States Army. While in the Army, he served in the supply room of the combat engineers. Immediately thereafter he worked for several weeks with the Ansco Film Company employed as a laborer in a dark room and, for six months following, as a laborer in a rubber mill. He then returned to work in coal mines.

 Plaintiff ceased working in the coal mines in August of 1948 and has not been employed since that time. He contends that he ceased his employment in the mines because of two debilitating conditions, an atopical dermatitis afflicting his face and body and, additionally, a visual impairment resulting from medication used in treatment of the dermatitis.

 In 1959 and 1960, plaintiff completed two years of vocational training in electronic instrumentation techniques in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. His training included the repair of motors, industrial machines and electric wiring. Although attending the course regularly, he contends that he was unable to see well at that time.

 The term "disability," as applicable to claims for benefits under both Sections 216(i) and 223, supra, is defined in Section 223(d), as amended by Section 158(b), Public Law 90-248, 81 Stat. 821 which provides in part:

 
"(d)(1) the term 'disability' means --
 
"(A) 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 which has lasted or can be expected to ...

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