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HOFFMAN v. WEINBERGER
September 26, 1974
CASPAR WEINBERGER, SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE
The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEWCOMER
This is an action under Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review a final decision of the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. Plaintiff, a forty-nine year old woman, applied for disability insurance benefits under 42 U.S.C. §§ 423 and 416(i) in February, 1971. Her application was denied by an administrative law judge, which decision became the final decision of the Secretary in this case when the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review on August 13, 1973. Plaintiff appealed the Secretary's decision to this Court, and both sides have filed motions for summary judgment. The sole question for us to decide is whether the Secretary's decision to deny plaintiff disability benefits is supported by substantial evidence. Willis v. Gardner, 377 F.2d 533 (4th Cir. 1967).
Plaintiff stated she stopped working because she could not walk. She stated that she would go to bed at night and get up in the morning and then just could not walk. She stated that she went to work for the last five years for the firm only because she had been with them so long and it was a lot of money involved and they needed her. She stated that she "could not work steady and did not work steady but when the season got busy which would be Christmas and Easter," she would go in to work. She stated that her employer would send cabs to pick her up and that was no problem for him, but once she got there she could do nothing unless she sat all day and ate at her desk. Plaintiff had been married in 1949 and she had two children. On her request for reconsideration of the initial denial of her disability benefits she stated that although her hip fusion was a good operation that she was unable to walk at all due to an arthritic back. She stated that it was a condition that had been bothering her since 1952. She stated to a representative of the Social Security Administration that some mornings she could walk and others she could not. She had been advised that when pain occurred to stay off her feet and that she was not on any medication except aspirin and "Bufferin." She stated that she was unable to stand and if she washed the clothes and was standing out an hour she would be unable to walk for the rest of the day. She lived in a two-story house with her husband and two children. She had someone come in once a week to do the cleaning and she could do a little bit to keep herself busy. When she came to apply for her disability insurance benefits she came to the office by herself. The representative observed that she walked slowly.
To qualify for disability insurance benefits and a period of disability under sections 223 and 216(i) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.A. 423 and 416(i), an individual must meet the insured status requirements of these sections, be under age 65, file an application for disability insurance benefits and a period of disability, and be under a "disability" as defined in the Act.
The term "disability" is defined in section 223 to mean:
(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 last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months; * * *
(2) For purposes of paragraph (1) (A) --
(A) an individual * * * shall be determined to be under a disability only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work. For purposes of the preceding sentence (with respect to any individual), 'work which exists in the national economy' means work which exists in significant numbers either in the region where such individual lives or in several regions of the country.
(3) For purposes of this subsection, a 'physical or mental impairment' is an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically ...
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