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JACKSON v. HECKLER

February 6, 1984

Walter JACKSON
v.
Margaret M. HECKLER, Secretary of Health and Human Services



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINER

 WEINER, District Judge.

 This action was brought under Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), to review the final decision of the defendant, the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary"). The plaintiff, Walter Jackson filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits and for Supplemental Security Income on November 27, 1981. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration by the Office of Disability operations of the Social Security Administration.

 Presently before the court are cross-motions by the parties for summary judgment. For the reasons which follow, the motion of the defendant is granted and the motion of the plaintiff is denied.

 Title 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) provides that the findings of the Secretary as to any fact shall be conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. Thus, this court's scope of review is a narrow one. The extent of the evidence required to support the position of the Secretary is "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 (1971), quoting Consolidated Edison v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229, 59 S. Ct. 206, 216, 83 L. Ed. 126 (1938); Smith v. Califano, 637 F.2d 968, 970 (3d Cir.1981); Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 406 (3d Cir.1979). The sole purpose of our review is to determine whether, considering the record as a whole, there is substantial evidence to support the Secretary's findings of fact. Goldman v. Folsom, 246 F.2d 776, 778 (3d Cir.1957). While we recognize the deference to administrative decisions implied in the substantial evidence rule, there is simultaneously a responsibility in a reviewing court to assure that administrative conclusions are rational. Universal Camera Corp. v. Labor Board, 340 U.S. 474, 480, 71 S. Ct. 456, 460, 95 L. Ed. 456 (1951); Cotter v. Harris, 642 F.2d 700, 705 (3d Cir.1981). Nevertheless, after carefully reviewing the record, the plaintiff's and defendant's motions, and supporting briefs, we hold that the Secretary's determination that the plaintiff is not disabled is supported by substantial evidence.

 "Disability" is defined in the Act as "any medically determinable physical or mental impairment," 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), which is so severe that the claimant 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 work which exists in the national economy . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A). This definition of disability also applies to supplemental security benefits for the aged, blind and disabled. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A), (B).

 In determining whether a plaintiff suffers from an impairment which prevents him from engaging in any substantial gainful activity the ALJ is required to undertake a five step analysis. 20 C.F.R. 404.1520, 416.920. Santise v. Schweiker, 676 F.2d 925 (3d Cir.1982). The ALJ must consider whether the claimant is currently working; whether the impairments are "severe"; whether the impairments are so severe that benefits should automatically be awarded; whether the claimant can perform his past work; whether the claimant can perform other substantial gainful work in the economy. Id. In this case, the ALJ found that the claimant was not severely disabled. Moreover, the ALJ found that even if the claimant's impairments were found to be severe the evidence would not establish that he was unable to engage in work activity.

 In the case sub judice the ALJ determined that the plaintiff has been diagnosed as suffering from the following impairments which when considered individually or in combination did not render him disabled: emphysema, gout, chronic arthritis, hepatomegaly, edema, heart enlargement and cardiac arrhythmia. Moreover, the ALJ noted that the evidence only established that the claimant suffered from slight scoliosis of the lumbar spine, mild hypertension, mild right foot drop and moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with good response to bronchodilation.

 Moreover, as to claimant's application for supplemental security income, there is substantial evidence to support the Secretary's conclusion that the claimant is not presently disabled, nor at any time since he filed such application on November 27, 1981. The medical records from the Veterans Administration, covering the period of December 8, 1980 to February 3, 1982, merely reveal claimant's general complaints and his need to have his prescriptions refilled. These medical records reveal that claimant also complained of blurring in his eye, which the records and claimant's own testimony indicate has been treated effectively with medication. It should be noted in this context that when an individual's impairment reasonably can be remedied by medication or treatment, it is not disabling under the Social Security Act. Stillwell v. Cohen, 411 F.2d 574 (5th Cir.1969); Henry v. Gardner, 381 F.2d 191 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 389 U.S. 993, 88 S. Ct. 492, 19 L. Ed. 2d 487 (1967), Purdham v. Celebrezze, 349 F.2d 828 (4th Cir.1965).

 The claimant was examined by Dr. Mark Camp on January 12, 1982. The diagnoses were hypertensive cardiovascular disease, nodular thyroid, gout, arthralgias and apparent traumatic neuropathy with a right foot drop. Lumbar x-rays were normal other than a slight right convex scoliosis of the lumbar spine. Dr. Camp's examination revealed the following to be at or near normal: color, head features, eye vision, extraoccular motion, pupila reaction, fuordi, ears and hearing, nose, mouth, oral hygiene, teeth, throat, thyroid, chest, heart, abdomen, external genitalia, skeleton, upper extremities, lower extremities albeit with a right foot drop, peripheral pulse. Dr. Camp recognized that claimant has had lower back pain ever since he was involved in an automobile accident in 1964, and that subsequently other joints have become involved. Dr. Camp also discussed claimant's emphysema and claimant's discussion of its effects.

 The plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Henderson, in a medical report dated March 16, 1982 diagnosed defendant as suffering from emphysema, gout and chronic arthritis. Dr. Henderson stated that chest x-rays, ventilation reports and arterial blood gas studies were available at the VA Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, yet no such reports were ever submitted by the claimant. Dr. Henderson revealed that claimant suffers on an average, one or two attacks of difficult breathing per month. As to claimants arthritis, Dr. Henderson determined that claimant's attacks recur every 2-6 weeks. Dr. Henderson further determined that claimant only suffers a 50% limitation of function in bending or standing, with no limitation of function in his ability to walk.

 Moreover, Dr. Henderson concluded that claimant could safely lift 50 pounds and retained a 40% grip strength in his hands. Dr. Henderson also diagnosed claimant as suffering from hypertension with occurrences of arrhythmias, heart enlargement, hepatomegaly, hypertension and edema. Dr. Henderson referred all inquiries regarding the clinical data to the VA Hospital in Wilmington. Again, no such reports were submitted. Dr. Henderson noted ...


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