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POWELL v. RICHARDSON

February 13, 1973

Anna F. POWELL
v.
Elliot RICHARDSON, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare


Clifford Scott Green, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GREEN

I.

 On April 28, 1969, Anna F. Powell (hereinafter referred to as the plaintiff or claimant) filed an application for disability insurance benefits with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (hereinafter referred to as the Secretary or defendant) at its branch office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff filed her claim pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, Section 423 (Social Security Act), alleging, inter alia, that because of a fracture of her left humerus she was unable to work since October 5, 1967. Her claim was approved and she was granted disability insurance benefits through April of 1970, when her benefits were terminated. Thereafter, the claimant requested and was granted a hearing on the merits of her claim; said hearing was held on April 14, 1971. The hearing examiner found that the claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. Plaintiff appealed this decision and on September 28, 1971, the Bureau of Hearings and Appeals, by letter, informed plaintiff that:

 
"Your request for review of the hearing examiner's decision has been carefully considered by the Appeals Council. The Council's consideration of your request has included all the evidence in your case, . . . . Evidence in addition to that which was before the hearing examiner has been received by the Appeals Council.
 
" The Appeals Council has concluded that the decision of the Hearing Examiner is correct." (Tr. 4) (Emphasis supplied)

 This decision thus became a final decision of the Secretary, and as a result, claimant has requested a review of that decision by this Court pursuant to Title 42, United States Code, Section 405(g). *fn1" Hodgson v. Celebrezze, 312 F.2d 260 (3rd Cir. 1963).

 II.

 Standards for Review

 Title 42, United States Code, Section 405(g) in relevant part provides that:

 
"The findings of the Secretary as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. . ." (Emphasis supplied)

 The crucial language of this section and the focus of our review in this case is the determination of whether there is "substantial evidence" to support the decision of the Secretary. If so, that decision must prevail.

 Substantial evidence has been defined by the Supreme Court as ". . . more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 1427, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971) (citing from Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229, 59 S. Ct. 206, 83 L. Ed. 126 (1938). Similarly, the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has defined "substantial evidence" as . . . evidence which a reasoning mind would accept as sufficient to support a conclusion. 'It consists of more than a mere scintilla of evidence but may be less than a preponderance' of the evidence." Ginsburg v. Richardson, 436 F.2d 1146, 1148 (3rd Cir. 1971), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 976, 91 S. Ct. 1680, 29 L. Ed. 2d 142 (1971).

 Thus, it is well settled that if there is "substantial evidence" to support the decision of the Secretary, his decision must stand. Weisenfeld v. Richardson, 463 F.2d 670 (3rd Cir. 1972); Ginsburg v. Richardson, supra. However, it is the duty of this Court in reaching a determination to review the entire record as a whole. Gentile v. Finch, 423 F.2d 244 (3rd Cir. 1970).

 The claimant has the burden of establishing that she is disabled within the meaning of the Act, 42 U.S.C. ยง 416(i)(1); Domozik v. Cohen, 413 F.2d 5 (3rd Cir. 1969); Lewis v. Gardner, 396 F.2d 436 (6th Cir. 1968). In order to establish her claim of disability, the claimant must show (1) the extent of her mental or physical impairment, and (2) that the extent of her mental or physical impairment results in her inability to engage in "any substantial gainful activity". Janek v. Celebrezze, 336 F.2d 828, 833 (3rd Cir. 1964).

 Utilizing the aforementioned legal standards, we now proceed to an examination of the entire record in this case.

 III.

 Medical Evidence

 Presently, claimant is a forty-seven year old female residing with her daughter and six (6) children; her formal education terminated at grade seven (7). (TR. 29). For fourteen years prior to 1964, plaintiff worked as a short-order cook at Metropolitan Hospital in Philadelphia. It is undisputed that she can no longer engage in that occupation. It is also uncontroverted that at various times before 1964, plaintiff worked as a domestic, and cigar wrapper on occasions. Plaintiff has done "no other type of work". (TR. 31).

 Sometime in 1964, plaintiff resigned her job as a short-order cook to reside with her daughter and help care for her four children. Some two years later on October 5, 1967, plaintiff accidentally fell through a porch railing and fractured her left humerus. On the basis of this physical injury, plaintiff requested and was granted disability insurance benefits.

 On August 27, 1970, asserting anew her right to disability insurance, plaintiff was interviewed at the District office of the Social Security Board; the interviewer observed and reported, inter alia:

 
"II. Progression of Condition
 
"she had to be taken to emergency ward 8/24/70 because she could not walk at all -- arthritis." (TR. 76).
 
"III. Effects of Current Condition
 
" she has developed arthritis in her right leg. She gets sharp pains in her knee cap and the ...

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