could stand, sit, and walk as required during an 8 hour day for a wide variety of jobs. Therefore, Dr. Makhdomi stated that Mr. Pysher could do medium exertion level work as defined at 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c). The claimant had a diminished sensation of pain in some areas on his legs. Touch sensation, though, was present. Mr. Pysher's legs showed no impairment in strength, reflexes, or coordination. Except for residual scarring, Dr. Makhdomi concluded that Mr. Pysher was physically normal, and he was employable. Dr. Makhdomi's conclusion was supported by clinical findings. Thus, the ALJ did not err in according the greatest weight to Dr. Makhdomi's report.
The medical data and opinions, taken as a whole, clearly show that Mr. Pysher was incapable of heavy work, but this was not sufficient to constitute a disability. Woods v. Finch, 428 F.2d 469 (3d Cir. 1970). The medical reports provide substantial evidence that he could perform sedentary work, and possibly even light work.
The claimant's own testimony at the hearing also supports this conclusion. In response to questioning by the ALJ, Mr. Pysher testified as to his residual functional capacity. The claimant explained that he could not remain standing or sitting for a prolonged period of time, or else his legs would become numb and stiff. Mr. Pysher believed that he could work in an assembly line operation, such as working along a conveyor belt, when he would be able to stand and sit at will. Mr. Pysher agreed that he could do such jobs as portal guard, security guard, and identification checker. So long as he could sit or stand when necessary, the claimant said that he could do sedentary work. He stated that he was able to drive a car, do household chores, paint, draw, cook, shop, and do yard work. Thus, Mr. Pysher's own testimony supported the conclusion that he was not disabled.
The claimant contends that the ALJ gave insufficient consideration to his subjective complaints of pain. During the hearing, Mr. Pysher complained that sitting or standing for a long time would cause his legs to become numb and stiff. However, twice during the hearing he stated that he does not feel much pain. Record at 39 and 41. Thus, the claimant's own testimony provided substantial evidence that his discomfort was not disabling.
The claimant further alleges that the ALJ committed a reversible error by basing his decision on personal observation of Mr. Pysher's demeanor at the hearing. The ALJ noted that Mr. Pysher was alert and communicated effectively. He also observed that the claimant was able to walk, sit, stand, and carry himself as an unimpaired person. As trier of fact, the ALJ acted properly by observing Mr. Pysher. "The opportunity to observe the demeanor of a witness, evaluating what is said in the light of how it is said, and considering how it fits with the rest of the evidence . . . is invaluable, and should not be discarded lightly." Arnold v. Schweiker, 571 F. Supp. 526, 529 (E.D. Pa. 1983) (quoting Beavers v. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 577 F.2d 383, 387 [6th Cir. 1978]). Had the ALJ relied solely on his own observations, where all the evidence was to the contrary, he would have committed reversible error. Davidson v. Harris, 502 F. Supp. 1208, 1213 (E.D. Pa. 1980). In this case, however, the ALJ's observations were consistent with the medical evidence and testimony at the hearing. The observations constituted one of several factors in the ALJ's decision that Mr. Pysher was not disabled.
The claimant also contends that the ALJ usurped the role of a vocational expert. In this case, however, a vocational expert was not necessary. The ALJ applied medical-vocational guidelines from 20 C.F.R. § 404. That procedure is acceptable. Heckler v. Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 76 L. Ed. 2d 66, 103 S. Ct. 1952 (1983); Santise v. Schweiker, 676 F.2d 925 (3d Cir. 1982). The ALJ found that Mr. Pysher's impairment was "non-severe," meaning that it did "not significantly limit [his] physical or mental ability to do basic work activities." 20 C.F.R. § 404.1521(a). Examples of basic work activities include walking, standing, and sitting. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1521(b). Mr. Pysher's ability to walk, stand, and sit has been diminished; however, the ALJ found that the extent of the impairment was not significant. The claimant's residual functional capacity enabled him to perform basic work activities so that he could engage in substantial gainful employment. Thus, Mr. Pysher was not disabled according to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c), regardless of his age, education, and work experience.
Mr. Pysher was age 31 at the time of the hearing. He was literate and able to communicate easily. His experience in the textile mill showed he was capable of performing moderate exertion level activity. These factors indicated that Mr. Pysher was not disabled. In fact, even if he could only do sedentary work, the claimant would not have been considered disabled under the Act. 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpt. P, App. 2, sec. 201.00(a), (b), (c), (h) and rule 201.24.
Case precedent supports my affirmance of the ALJ's determination. In a similar case, where the claimant had to alternate between sitting and standing and could not do either for more than an hour, the court stated that such a condition is not inconsistent with meeting the requirements for jobs which exist in significant numbers in the national economy. "[A] trier of fact could conclude that the plaintiff retains the ability to perform a significant number of jobs which do permit the plaintiff to sit or stand at will and which are within her vocational profile." Griffen v. Bowen, No. 85-3451, slip op. at 2 (E.D. Pa. June 12, 1986); see also Stracciolini v. Heckler, 639 F. Supp. 548, slip op. at 12 (E.D. Pa. 1986) (holding that claimant was not disabled under medical-vocational guidelines of 20 C.F.R. § 404, even though claimant could lift less than five pounds, walk only two or three blocks, and sit or stand for only fifteen to thirty minutes at one time).
The ALJ considered all of the evidence presented at the hearing and decided that Mr. Pysher's impairment was not severe enough to constitute a disability under the Social Security Act. Accordingly, he denied Mr. Pysher's claims for insurance benefits.
I find that the ALJ's decision was supported by substantial evidence. Therefore, I will affirm the decision and grant the Secretary's motion for summary judgment.
AND NOW, this 16 day of July, 1986, upon consideration of the cross-motions for summary judgment, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED as follows:
1. The motion of the Secretary of Health and Human Services is GRANTED.
2. The motion of the claimant, Richard A. Pysher, is DENIED.
3. Judgment is ENTERED in favor of Margaret M. Heckler, Secretary of Health and Human Services, and against Richard A. Pysher.
4. The Clerk of Court is directed to close the docket of this case.