meaning of the Act during her period of insured eligibility. The clinical data from Mrs. Gardner's extended stay at Temple University Hospital does record extensive treatment for an infection of a pressure sore of the right thigh. The discharge sheet, however, does not reveal any permanent impairment. It simply suggests follow-up care by the out-patient clinic or family doctor.
The evidence presented by Mrs. Gardner's family doctor, Dr. Guyer, is in the form of diagnoses and medical opinion that are in some ways contradictory. It is not clear from Dr. Guyer's statements exactly when he began treating the plaintiff. Plaintiff's testimony, however, supports his affidavit that he started seeing her a month or two after she left Temple University Hospital. Moreover, while Dr. Guyer does state that plaintiff had developed paralysis in her right leg, it is unclear whether this impairment was fully disabling on or before September 30, 1959.
When this matter was previously before me, I believed the medical evidence to be sketchy and incomplete. In addition, I concluded the administrative law judge had not adequately considered Mrs. Gardner's subjective testimony as to her symptomology and pain. It was for these reasons that the matter was remanded to the Secretary for his reconsideration after the development of a better evidentiary record. Unfortunately, in all of the additional record that was produced, there is nothing except some further testimony by plaintiff to support her disability claim before her eligibility ran out.
The Secretary, after reviewing all of the evidence, once again rejected plaintiff's claim contending that she did not meet her burden of proof. In analyzing Dr. Guyer's testimony the Secretary did not feel there was enough specific medical evidence to support the claim that the plaintiff suffered sufficient physical impairment to be disabled on or before September 30, 1959. Also, in considering the plaintiff's own testimony, the Secretary was not convinced that she suffered from "such intense and unrelenting pain that she was unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity" during her period of eligibility.
The Secretary is required to make his determination from all the evidence. While objective evidence is given great weight, medical reports and diagnoses at times are sufficient to establish the existence of a disability. Longo v. Weinberger, 369 F. Supp. 250, 255 (E.D. Pa. 1974). Even unsupported evidence of subjective pain that is of sufficient severity may be enough to support a finding of disability. Bittel v. Richardson, 441 F.2d 1193, 1195 (3d Cir. 1971); Farmer v. Weinberger, 368 F. Supp. 1, 5 (E.D. Pa. 1973); Pope v. Richardson, Civ. No. 72-1460 (E.D. Pa., filed May 29, 1973). But, because a person has some pain or discomfort it does not automatically make him disabled. Timmerman v. Weinberger, 375 F. Supp. 641, 645 (E.D. Mo. 1974). It is the duty of the Secretary to weigh the evidence and give greater weight to that portion of the evidence he finds persuasive. Rivas v. Weinberger, 475 F.2d 255, 258 (5th Cir. 1973); Lawhorn v. Weinberger, 365 F. Supp. 491, 494 (W.D. Va. 1973).
Most particularly, the administrative law judge to whom the Secretary delegated fact finding responsibilities, must decide issues of credibility and the appropriate weight to be given the exhibits. Great deference should be given his judgment since he heard the witnesses' testimony and observed their demeanor. Longo v. Weinberger, supra, at 257; Urgolites v. Finch, 316 F. Supp. 1168, 1173 (W.D. Pa. 1970). Furthermore, he should reject such testimony, especially pertaining to subjective pain, if he does not find it credible. Farmer v. Weinberger, supra; Pope v. Richardson, supra.
This court is ever mindful of the beneficent purpose of the Social Security Act and the more tolerant standard to be applied in these administrative proceedings. Hess v. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 497 F.2d 837, 840 (3d Cir. 1974). This is especially true in the case of persons with less than an average educational and income level who do not seek the extensive medical care considered necessary by more affluent citizens.
To be eligible for disability benefits, however, a claimant must meet certain minimal requirements. Foremost among these is that she must adequately prove the existence of a disability within the claimant's period of insured eligibility. The commencement of the disability, after the ending of such eligibility, even if the impairment had its genesis during some eligible time, does not entitle the claimant to disability benefits. Jeralds v. Richardson, 445 F.2d 36, 39 (7th Cir. 1971); Domozik v. Cohen, 413 F.2d 5, 6 n. 3 (3d Cir. 1969). If Mrs. Gardner cannot establish that the impairment to her leg was such that she was disabled within the meaning of the law while she was eligible, she has not met her burden of proof and her claim must fail.
A similar case is Kirkland v. Weinberger, 480 F.2d 46 (5th Cir.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 913, 94 S. Ct. 255, 38 L. Ed. 2d 155 (1973), where the court held that while plaintiff did prove that she was presently disabled, she did not offer sufficient evidence to prove she was disabled at any time she was eligible for disability benefits.
In this case, if I had been required to make the original determination, I might well have reached a different result. But having reviewed the evidence, I cannot conclude the Secretary's decision that plaintiff failed to prove the existence of a disability during her period of eligibility was arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion. See DeNafo v. Finch, 436 F.2d 737, 739-40 (3d Cir. 1971). Therefore, I must affirm the denial of benefits to the plaintiff.
AND NOW, this 26th day of September, 1974, after consideration of the parties' briefs and a review of the whole record, the defendant's motion for summary judgment is hereby granted.
BY THE COURT: