by the Social Security Administration after the Pennsylvania State Agency found that the plaintiff was not under a disability within the meaning of the Act.
At the request of the plaintiff, the case was considered de novo by an Administrative Law Judge (hereinafter "ALJ"). The plaintiff, represented by her attorney, and the plaintiff's nephew, John Gallo, testified at the hearing. In a decision dated November 25, 1980, the ALJ determined that the "claimant's impairments do not prevent the performance" of her "past relevant work as a file clerk and possibly as a terminal operator." (tr. 14 and 15). The ALJ then concluded that the plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act and was therefore not entitled to disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Secretary when the Appeals Council denied the plaintiff's request for review on January 30, 1981.
The issue before this Court 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" or supplemental security income. Harkin v. Califano, 453 F. Supp. 29 (E.D.Pa.1978); 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). "Substantial evidence" is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971), Smith v. Califano, 637 F.2d 968 (3 Cir. 1981).
After careful review of the entire administrative record, we find that the Secretary's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment should be granted and the defendant's motion denied.
In order for the plaintiff to establish that she was disabled and thus eligible for either disability insurance payments or supplemental security income, she had the burden of proving that she was unable to engage in any "substantial gainful activity." 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A) and 1382c(a)(3) (A). It is well-settled, however, that once a plaintiff has established an inability to perform her former employment, the burden of proof shifts to the Secretary to show that the plaintiff "has the capacity to perform specific jobs that exist in the national economy." Rossi v. Califano, 602 F.2d 55, 57 (3 Cir. 1979), Rich v. Harris, 503 F. Supp. 1041 (E.D.Pa.1980).
The ALJ precluded the shifting of the burden of proof when he found that "there is no impairment shown in this case which has prevented or would prevent the claimant, for continuous period of twelve months, from returning to her former work." (tr. 13). This factual determination by the ALJ is in direct contrast with the medical evidence received and with the testimony given by the plaintiff and her nephew at the hearing before the ALJ. The record is void of substantial evidence upon which the ALJ could base his conclusion.
Since there was no testimony received from a vocational expert, the evidence in this case consists only of the testimony of the plaintiff and her nephew and the medical reports of five (5) doctors. The ALJ expressly discredited the plaintiff's "subjective complaints including pain." (tr. 14). The ALJ apparently also ignored the corroborating testimony of John Gallo-the only reference to this witness being the following: "The claimant's nephew, John Gallo, appeared and testified. Basically, his testimony corroborated that of the claimant's." (tr. 10). The ALJ's finding of lack of credibility was inadequately explained and unjustified, Baerga v. Richardson, 500 F.2d 309, 312 (3 Cir. 1974), cert. denied, 420 U.S. 931 (95 S. Ct. 1133, 43 L. Ed. 2d 403) (1975), there is nothing in the testimony of either witness which supports the finding of the ALJ that the plaintiff can perform her former work. The mere fact that the plaintiff engages in sporadic and transitory activities such as occasionally climbing one (1) flight of stairs, making her bed and dressing and washing herself does not demonstrate her ability to engage in substantial gainful employment. In fact, such minimal activity may support the fact that she is unable to engage in such employment. Smith v. Califano, supra (3 Cir. 1981).
Still in search of substantial evidence to support the Secretary's decision, we next look to the medical reports of five (5) doctors who examined the plaintiff. Dr. Anthony Janelli is the treating physician of the plaintiff.
Dr. Janelli's report dated June 22, 1980 lists various ailments afflicting the plaintiff and concludes that the plaintiff "is unable to work due to severe low back pain." (tr. 138).
Dr. Leonard Camnitz, a specialist in roentgenology, examined the lumbar spine and pelvis of the plaintiff and listed eight (8) findings of abnormalities in his February 21, 1980 report. (tr. 125-126). Dr. Camnitz made no opinion as to the ability of the plaintiff to work.
Dr. Barry L. Getzoff examined the plaintiff on behalf of the Social Security Administration. Dr. Getzoff found the plaintiff to have "uncontrolled hypertension" and "[scoliosis] of the lumbar spine with probable osteoarthritis in this area." (tr. 128). He concluded as follows in his report dated March 5, 1980:
At the present time, there is evidence that she would be limited doing any type of lifting or sitting for any length of time. She would be unable to bend, squat or crawl for any length of time. She would have difficulty in being around moving machinery. In addition, there is a possibility from her symptoms, that she may have a carpal-tunnel syndrome and this should probably be checked.
Her prognosis is guarded as far as her hypertension is concerned, and this needs to be brought under control. (tr. 128).