not only failed to deny the existence of claimant's professed symptoms, but in fact said the symptoms she claimed would be expected, given the injuries she sustained, and that these symptoms could worsen.
Secondly, Dr. Sternlieb never contradicted Dr. Gordon's opinion that claimant's condition would prevent her working at a substantial gainful activity. When asked if claimant's symptoms would permit her to work at sedentary activity for seven to seven and a half hours a day, Dr. Sternlieb said only that he had known some persons with similar hip conditions who had done such work.
Such conclusion contains a major flaw with respect to constituting substantial evidence against claimant's disability claim. A conclusion as to what some other individuals can do, even with injuries similar to claimant's, cannot serve as the basis for a conclusion as to what claimant can do, since as Dr. Sternlieb himself noted, persons with similar conditions can have different degrees of pain, and pain constitutes an important variable in the equation which determines whether a person is disabled.
Finally, even had Dr. Sternlieb expressed an unequivocal opinion that claimant in this particular case did not have pain sufficient to prevent her working full-time, we would have to discount such a conclusion, since Dr. Sternlieb never himself examined claimant. On the facts of this case, we think the opinion of a physician who has never treated or examined claimant cannot serve as substantial evidence in the face of contradictory opinion evidence by other physicians who have personally examined and treated the claimant, especially where one such physician has seen the claimant for more than a year. Cf. Branham v. Gardner, 383 F.2d 614 (6th Cir. 1967); Hayes v. Gardner, 376 F.2d 517 (4th Cir. 1967); Wayne v. Finch, 313 F. Supp. 898 (D.C. N.C. 1969).
As we said earlier, substantial evidence is evidence which makes a conclusion reasonable. Viewing the evidence of the above record, we do not believe substantial evidence supports the Secretary's conclusion here, because we do not believe such record contains evidence to render reasonable the Secretary's conclusion that claimant's symptoms are not as she testified. Against the testimony of claimant that she has disabling symptoms, the confirmation of claimant's claimed disability in the opinion of a doctor who has examined her over the period of a year, and the admission by the Secretary's own Medical Advisor that one would expect claimant's alleged symptoms in light of her injuries, we find only the opinion of the Medical Advisor that although he has not personally examined claimant, he does not believe she is disabled from working full-time because other persons with similar hip conditions can work full-time. We simply do not believe this latter conclusion constitutes a reasonable basis for the Secretary's conclusion in light of the countervailing evidence on the record.
Accordingly, since we conclude the Secretary's decision does not rest on substantial evidence, and since we find no genuine issues of material fact remaining in this case, we shall grant claimant's summary judgment motion and deny defendant's cross-motion.
AND NOW, to wit, this 26th day of March, 1975, for the reasons set forth in the preceding memorandum, and finding no genuine issue of material fact in this case, it is hereby Ordered that plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED, and defendant's motion is DENIED, and we remand this case to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare with the order to grant claimant disability benefits dating from April 11, 1973.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
Clarence C. Newcomer, J.
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