decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, (Secretary) which denied the plaintiff's claim for Supplemental Security Income due to disability since 1971.
Plaintiff is thirty-seven (37) years of age, a high school graduate from Puerto Rico, and has not had any special vocational or on the job training. Her work history consists of working as a welder of small electronic parts into radios, and as a power sewing machine operator. She left her job as a welder because the smoke aggravated her allergies. She left her job as a sewing machine operator because the dust in the factory also aggravated her allergies and her asthma; the noise in the factory caused her nervous headaches, and her diabetes caused her to be dizzy and lightheaded. She last worked in 1971.
Plaintiff has been under the care of various doctors since 1972 for many different physical ailments, including: dizziness, breathing difficulties, headaches, bladder problems, diabetes, asthma, rhinitis, and pains in the lower back, pelvic and neck areas. She has been hospitalized on several occasions over this period for treatment of these ailments. Plaintiff is currently under medication for asthma, diabetes, nerves, inability to sleep, and bladder problems. There is ample medical evidence on the record which documents the plaintiff's physical disabilities.
Plaintiff has a history of psychiatric illness dating back to when she was sixteen (16) years of age. She has also attempted to commit suicide by taking sleeping pills. (tr. 96). In addition, three (3) physicians, Dr. Heller, Dr. Goodman, and Dr. Wallace, have found that the plaintiff possesses severe emotional, nervous psychoneurotic disorders and psychiatric treatment has been recommended. (tr. 192, 215). It is significant to note that Dr. Goodman and Dr. Wallace were experts employed by the Social Security Administration.
The medical opinions of Doctors Heller (tr. 192), Goodman (tr. 218) and Wallace
(tr. 212-213), were criticized and discounted by the ALJ in her decision. An ALJ is not free to set her own expertise against that of physicians who present competent medical evidence, especially when the evidence ignored is that reached by experts employed by the Social Security Administration. Fowler v. Califano, 596 F.2d 600 (3 Cir. 1979). Although expert medical evidence is not conclusive upon the legal question of disability, it is to be considered, and where it is not controverted by substantial evidence to the contrary, it is entitled to great weight. Rossi v. Califano, 602 F.2d 55 (3 Cir. 1979); Randall v. Flemming, 192 F. Supp. 111 (W.D.Mich.1961). Although much of the evidence is of a psychological nature, it is clear that the Act was intended to apply not only to physical ailments, but also to mental conditions, and this evidence cannot be ignored. Rayborn v. Weinberger, 398 F. Supp. 1303 (N.D.Ind.1975). Were there a significant professional disagreement among the physicians, the ALJ would have been able to resolve the issues, but in this case all of the expert medical testimony confirms and supports the plaintiff's disability. Gober v. Matthews, 574 F.2d 772 (3 Cir. 1978).
The ALJ refused to call a vocational expert to testify as to the plaintiff's ability to do her former work, but still concluded that she possesses such ability. Once medical experts have been introduced substantiating a medical impairment, as they have in this case, and the plaintiff has testified as to her inability to work, the ALJ is required to produce a vocational expert to testify on the plaintiff's ability to find substantial gainful employment. Garrett v. Richardson, 471 F.2d 598 (8 Cir. 1972). There is no competent medical testimony that the plaintiff is capable of performing the physical activities which would be required by either her former job or any other employment available to her. Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403 (3 Cir. 1979).
In addition, the ALJ chose to ignore any credibility evidence which was favorable to the plaintiff in the record. For example, the ALJ opines that a visiting neighbor, Mrs. Gonzalez, testified that plaintiff's behavior was "normal"
(tr. 16) during the household visits which she had with the plaintiff, but the ALJ ignored the testimony of the same neighbor who stated that sometimes she saw the plaintiff start crying when she had her "nerves" which caused her to drop a glass of water from her hand to the floor. (tr. 115). The ALJ simply dismisses the claims of disabling pain without any evidence that this claimant is a malingerer or a fabricator. The fact that she can clean her house and do household chores does not mean that she can go outside of the house (to which she retreats from the outside world) to do substantial work. Her husband supports her claims; the neighbor and the doctors support her claims, and the Secretary's finding is without any substantial evidence.
Accordingly, we make the following
Now, this 9th day of January, 1980, IT IS RESPECTFULLY RECOMMENDED that the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment should be GRANTED, and the finding of the Secretary should be REVERSED. Ingram v. Richardson, 471 F.2d 1268 (6 Cir. 1972).