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DAVILA v. WEINBERGER

January 30, 1976

AMBROSIO DAVILA
v.
CASPAR W. WEINBERGER



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

BRODERICK, J.

 This action is brought 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 denying the claimant disability benefits. The decision rendered by the Administrative Law Judge on March 1, 1974 became the final decision of the Secretary in this case when affirmed by the Appeals Council on April 5, 1974. This final decision holds that the claimant is not entitled to disability insurance benefits under §§ 216 (i) and 223, respectively, of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416 (i) and 423. This matter is before us on cross-motions of the parties for summary judgment. In the alternative, the claimant has requested that the record of this case be remanded to the Secretary.

 Title 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g) provides in pertinent part that:

 
The findings of the Secretary as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.

 Thus, in reviewing the Secretary's decision, the Court's role is narrowly circumscribed. The sole question is whether there was substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the finding of the Secretary that the claimant was not entitled to receive disability insurance benefits. "Substantial evidence" has been defined as "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842, 91 S. Ct. 1420 (1971); Ginsburg v. Richardson, 436 F.2d 1146, 1148 (3d Cir. 1971); Barats v. Weinberger, 383 F. Supp. 276, 279 (E.D. Pa. 1974). As our Third Circuit has recently cautioned, "'substantial' means just that and is not the equivalent of a 'scintilla.'" Hess v. Secretary of HEW, 497 F.2d 837 (3d Cir. 1974). After a careful review of the record and briefs, and for the reasons which shall appear hereinafter, this Court is of the opinion that this case must be remanded to the Secretary for a de novo hearing in accordance with this opinion.

 To qualify for disability insurance benefits under Sections 223 and 216 (i) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 423, 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 be under a "disability" as defined in the Act. The term "disability" is defined in Section 223 as:

 
(d) (1) . . .
 
(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; . . .
 
(B) . . . .
 
(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 acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.

 The claimant has the burden of establishing that he was disabled, within the meaning of the Social Security Act, Robles v. Finch, 409 F.2d 84 (1st Cir. 1969); Mark v. Celebrezze, 348 F.2d 289 (9th Cir. 1965). In order to establish a disability, a claimant must prove: first, that he has a 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 and; second, that the impairment renders him unable to engage in ...


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