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NEWHOUSE v. HECKLER

February 7, 1984

Patricia NEWHOUSE
v.
Margaret HECKLER, Secretary of Health and Human Services



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINER

 WEINER, District Judge.

 This was an action brought by the plaintiff pursuant to Section 205(g), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review a final decision of the defendant, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, terminating the plaintiff's receipt of disability insurance benefits under 42 U.S.C. § 423, as amended. The matter is before this court on cross-motions of the parties for summary judgment. For the reasons which follow, the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied, and the defendant's motion is granted.

 Plaintiff was found to be disabled commencing December 31, 1979, due to blood clotting and phlebitic conditions of her legs. (Tr. 222 and 223). However, in July, 1982, it was determined that as of June, 1982, plaintiff's impairment was no longer of sufficient severity to prevent substantial gainful activity. (Tr. 226). Plaintiff's benefits were terminated as of the last day of August, 1982. (Tr. 226). In October, 1982 plaintiff requested a hearing challenging the (July, 1982) determination of the Secretary terminating the benefits. (Tr. 125).

 The case was subsequently heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In a decision dated February 8, 1983, the ALJ found that the plaintiff was no longer impaired so as to preclude the capacity to engage in substantial gainful activity. (Tr. 116 and 117). Hence the ALJ concluded that the plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act and therefore not entitled to continued disability insurance benefits. (Tr. 117). Thereafter, on March 18, 1983, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, thereby making the decision to terminate the final decision of the Secretary. (Tr. 107). Subsequently the Council received further evidence of plaintiff's November 1982 hospitalization. However, on May 5, 1983 the Council decided that there was no basis for vacating its previous action in the case. (Tr. 3). The issues presently before the court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment are as follows:

 1. Whether the additional medical evidence, attached as Exhibit A to plaintiff's brief, warrants reversal or remand;

 2. Whether the Secretary's final decision determining that plaintiff's entitlement to disability benefits had ceased is supported by substantial evidence.

 The standard for determining whether or not a Social Security disability benefits case before this court is entitled to remand is set out in 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). That section provides in pertinent part that "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 failure to incorporate such evidence into the record in a prior proceeding . . . ." In the case sub judice, while there is obvious good cause for the evidence of a June 1983 hospitalization and reports which had not been submitted in prior proceedings, the additional evidence submitted by plaintiff fails to satisfy the materiality requirement set out in § 405(g). In Chaney v. Schweiker, 659 F.2d 676, 679 (5th Cir.1981) the court stated the following: "The requirement of materiality is an important one. The concept 'material' suggests that the new evidence must be relevant and probative. However, not every discovery of new evidence, even if relevant and probative, will justify a remand to the Secretary, for some evidence is of limited value and insufficient to justify the administrative costs and delay of a new hearing. Thus we hold that a remand to the Secretary is not justified if there is no reasonable possibility that it would have changed the outcome of the Secretary's determination." Id. at 679.

 In the case sub judice the evidence is such that "there is no reasonable possibility" that the Secretary's final decision terminating benefits would change by a consideration of it. In the additional evidence the plaintiff's own treating physician states that plaintiff's phlebitis resolved with treatment. (Exhibit A). Since the additional evidence submitted by plaintiff is of such "limited value" remand based upon it is not justified. See Chaney, 659 F.2d at 679.

 The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently held:

 
In reviewing final determinations by the Secretary after an administrative hearing, courts are bound by the Secretary's findings of fact if they are supported by "substantial evidence." 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) (Supp. V 1981); 1383(c)(3) (1976). Substantial evidence has been defined as such 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); Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 406 (3d Cir.1979). A person is disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act "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." 42 U.S.C.A. § 423(d)(2)(A) (1983); 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B) (1976). Under the Act, the burden of proof as to the medical basis of a finding of disability remains on the claimant at all times, both in the initial proceeding to establish disability and in a subsequent termination proceeding. Torres v. Schweiker, 682 F.2d 109, 111 (3d Cir.1982), cert. denied [ 459 U.S. 1174] 103 S. Ct. 823 [74 L. Ed. 2d 1020] (1983). If a claimant makes a showing that s/he is unable to return to a customary occupation, then the Secretary has the burden of proving that the claimant has the capacity to perform jobs that exist in the national economy. Id. at 111-12; Rossi v. Califano, 602 F.2d 55, 57 (3d Cir.1979).

 Daring v. Heckler, 727 F.2d 64 (3d Cir.1984).

 Accordingly, the sole purpose of this 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). However, while the reviewing court may not try the case de novo, it is similarly prohibited from abdicating its "conventional judicial function" of assuring that administrative conclusions are rational. Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 490, 71 S. Ct. 456, 465, 95 L. Ed. 456 (1951); Cotter v. Harris, 642 F.2d 700, 705 (3d Cir.1981); Dobrowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 407 (3d Cir.1979); Goldman, 246 F.2d at 778.

 "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 ...


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