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TORRES v. HARRIS

December 4, 1980

Luis TORRES
v.
Patricia Roberts HARRIS, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

MEMORANDUM

This action is brought under Sections 205(g) and 1631(c)(3) of the Social Security Act as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), 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 February 7, 1980 became the final decision of the Secretary in this case when affirmed by the Appeals Council on March 25, 1980. 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, nor to Supplemental Security Income benefits under Title XVI of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381a. 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 the case be remanded to the Secretary, and he has introduced new evidence in support of this request.

 The role of the courts in reviewing the Secretary's decisions is narrowly circumscribed. Before June 9, 1980, Title 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) provided in pertinent part that:

 
The findings of the Secretary as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.... The court ... may, at any time, on good cause shown, order additional evidence to be taken before the Secretary.

 The Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980, Pub.L.No.96-265, § 307, 94 Stat. 458 (1980), effective on June 9, 1980, the date of enactment, H.R.Conf.Rep.No.944, 96th Cong.2d Sess., 59, reprinted in (1980) U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News, pp. 2481, 2596, 2611, modified the "good cause shown" provision as follows:

 
The court ... may at any time order additional evidence to be taken before the Secretary, but only upon a showing that there is new evidence which is material and that there is good cause for the failure to incorporate such evidence into the record in a prior proceeding; ...

 The House Report clarifies this provision by stating that

 
it is not to be construed as a limitation of judicial remands currently recognized under the law in cases which (sic) the Secretary has failed to provide a full and fair hearing, to make explicit findings, or to have correctly apply (sic) the law and regulations.

 H.R.Rep.No.100, 96th Cong.2d Sess., 13. Rather, as in the Senate the concern focused on "remands ... made because the judge disagrees with the outcome of the case which he might have to sustain under the "substantial evidence rule.' " Id.; S.Rep.No.408, 96th Cong.2d Sess. 58, reprinted in, (1980) U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News, pp. 2481, 2540. But a Senate proposal to further restrict the scope of judicial review by replacing this rule with one requiring that the Secretary's factual determinations be held "final, unless found to be arbitrary and capricious," id. at 59, (1980) U.S.Code Cong. & Ad.News at 2541, was rejected by a Congressional Conference Committee which, however, exhorted the courts to "interpret the substantial evidence rule with strict adherence to its principles." Subcommittee on Social Security of the House Committee on Ways and Means, 96th Cong.2d Sess., Disability Amendments of 1980-H.R. 3236, 8 (Comm. Print 1980). Thus, if a decision of the Secretary is supported by "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion," Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 1427, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842, 852 (1971), and is otherwise unobjectionable, see H.R.Rep.No.100, 96th Cong.2d Sess., 13, quoted above, it must be affirmed unless the claimant can meet the requirements of the new remands provision of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), quoted above.

 With these considerations in mind, and after careful study of the record, briefs, and new evidence presented by the claimant, this Court concludes, for the reasons that follow, that judgment must be given for the Secretary.

 To qualify for disability insurance benefits (DIB) 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 by the Act. The term "disability" is defined in Section 223 as:

 
(d)(i) ...
 
(A) inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reasons 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)-

 In order to qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits on the basis of disability under Section 1602 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1381a, an individual must file an application for SSI benefits based on disability and must be an "eligible individual" as defined in the Act.

 The term "disabled individual" as used in Section 1611(a) of the Act is defined in Section 1614(a) of the Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a) in language identical to Section 223 quoted above.

 The claimant has the burden of establishing that he was disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act, § 223(d)(5), 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5); Blalock v. Richardson, 483 F.2d 773 (4th Cir. 1972); Gardner v. Richardson, 383 F. Supp. 1 (E.D.Pa.1974). 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 any substantial gainful employment, Baker v. Gardner, 362 F.2d 864 (3d Cir. 1966); Bujnovksy v. Celebrezze, 343 F.2d 868 (3d Cir. 1965); Powell v. Richardson, 355 F. Supp. 359 (E.D.Pa.1973).

 In determining whether a person is able to engage in any substantial gainful employment, there are four elements of proof which the Secretary must consider: (1) objective medical data and findings; (2) expert medical opinions; (3) subjective complaints; and (4) claimant's age, educational background and work history. Sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i) and 423(d)(2)(A); DePaepe v. Richardson, 464 F.2d 92 (5th Cir. 1972); Dillon v. Celebrezze, 345 F.2d 753 (4th ...


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