that factor alone was not found to be dispositive.
At all times through June 30, 1977, plaintiff was a younger individual with a limited education. See 20 C.F.R. foll. § 404.1599, Appendix 2, §§ 201.00 and Table No. 1; 202.00 and Table No. 2. Plaintiff's medically determinable impairments as of June 30, 1977 were mild arthritis of the spine and a hiatal hernia. See document 15 of record, at p. 320; see also document 7 of record, at pp. 201, 221-222, 227, 233-234, 235-236, 252, 255, 266, 267-268, 273-274, 275, 292. The Secretary's conclusion that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity at all times through June 30, 1977 for a full range of light work or, at the very least, for a full range of sedentary work is also supported by substantial evidence, as will be explained more fully infra.
In his request to the Appeals Council for review of the ALJ's recommended decision, plaintiff argued that the ALJ failed to give proper weight to the testimony of plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Dizon. See document 15 of record, at pp. 301-304. The Appeals Council concluded, however, that the ALJ gave proper consideration to Dr. Dizon's reports, see id. at 298, and the court agrees. Dr. Dizon's finding that plaintiff had been continuously disabled since 1970 was clearly inconsistent with the other evidence of record. For example, plaintiff filed three previous applications for disability benefits claiming that he had become disabled as of 1970, and all three were denied, the last on August 14, 1974. As to medical evidence, reports from Drs. Muller, Kleckner, Gunderson, and Jaeger in 1970 reveal no significant orthopedic impairments. See document 15 of record, at pp. 221-222, 227, 233-234, 235-236. Dr. Weisbrod saw plaintiff on August 27, 1973 and found no dorsal spine abnormalities. See id. at p. 252. X-rays taken of the lumbar spine on November 20, 1981 "show[ed] mild osteoarthritic changes. No fractures, intervertebral space narrowing, sublaxations or other significant abnormalities [were] seen." Id. at 266. Similarly, x-rays taken on March 13, 1984 "reveal[ed] osteoarthritic changes of the lumbar spine, L2-L3. No plain film evidence of degenerative disc disease or other abnormalities." Id. at 275. In addition, Dr. Dizon's opinion is inconsistent with the fact that plaintiff returned to work during the fifteen month period between April 1, 1971 and June 30, 1972, and again for six months in 1979, almost two years after his "date last insured." Finally, even accepting Dr. Dizon's conclusions as true, they do not contradict the ALJ's conclusion that plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to do at the very least sedentary work. See id. at 274.
As stated previously, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff could perform a full range of light or sedentary work. Substantial evidence supports this finding. The fact that plaintiff worked for at least six months mowing lawns almost two years after his "date last insured" can be considered as evidence of his ability to perform substantial gainful employment. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1574; Milton v. Schweiker, 669 F.2d 554, 556 (8th Cir. 1982) (wages earned during alleged period of disability can be evidence of ability to perform substantial gainful employment). In addition, Dr. Dizon's findings are consistent with the conclusion that plaintiff can perform a full range of sedentary activities. See document 7 of record, at p. 274 ("According to him the pain is constant in character, aggravated with constant motion especially bending and on exertion lifting objects as light as 20 to 30 lbs.); see also 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a) ("Sedentary work involves lifting no more than 10 pounds at a time and occasionally lifting or carrying articles like docket files, ledgers, and small tools . . . . Jobs are sedentary if walking and standing are required occasionally and other sedentary criteria are met.") Finally, the fact that plaintiff continued to hunt and fish on a regular basis in 1984, after his "date last insured," as evidenced by documents he himself submitted to this court, is further support for the conclusion that he possessed the residual functional capacity to perform at least a full range of sedentary work. See document 8 of record, Attachments ("Apparently John spends most of his time in the woods, hunting or fishing . . ."; "His attitude towards treatment is ambivalent and he refused to attend until after the deer hunting season"; "[Plaintiff] Spoke alot [sic] about his interests in hunting and wildlife. Stated once hunting was over he would attend treatment"; "He [plaintiff] refused to attend for 2 weeks because of hunting season").
Finally, the ALJ found as follows:
In assessing the claimant's residual functional capacity, the issue of pain has been fully considered, and it is found that it is because of pain and discomfort that the claimant was limited to the full range of light work through June 30, 1977, however his pain and discomfort was not of such severity and duration as to limit or restrict him to less than the full range of light work.
See document 15 of record, at p. 320, para. 12; see also id., at p. 321, para. 15. Again, this finding is supported by substantial evidence. Plaintiff's assertions of constant and extensive pain are not completely credible. At the hearing, he testified that he could no longer hunt or fish because of the pain, see document 7 of record, at p. 96; document 8 of record, at p. 4, yet, as stated above, plaintiff spent a good deal of his time in 1984 hunting and fishing and refused to attend treatment until after deer hunting season. See document 8 of record, Attachments. In addition, plaintiff's medically determinable impairments were limited to mild arthritis of the spine and a hiatal hernia. Thus, while plaintiff's medical impairments cause him some pain and discomfort, they are not so severe as to limit or restrict him to less than a full range of sedentary or light work.
As stated previously, as of June 30, 1977, plaintiff was a younger individual with a limited education. Once it is concluded that plaintiff had the residual functional capacity for a full range of sedentary or light work, a finding of not disabled follows. See 20 C.F.R. foll. § 404.1599, Appendix 2, § 201.00, Table No. 1, Rule 201.24; § 202.00, Table No. 2, Rule 202.17. The court will therefore grant summary judgment in favor of defendant.
One final matter is before the court. In his Report, Magistrate Smyser recommends that the court consider imposing reasonable costs against plaintiff's counsel in connection with the remand of this case to the ALJ. As stated by Magistrate Smyser:
the course of litigation in a social security disability case is often quite lengthy. This is particularly so when a case is remanded to the Secretary by the district court for further consideration. This delay is very regrettable but in some cases it is unavoidable. This is not such a case. Here, counsel now reveals, there was no necessity for a remand to consider the matter of mental impairments. Yet, counsel wholly failed to make any effort when this case was previously before this court to comply with the Rules of Court of the Middle District of Pennsylvania and to inform the court that this was not a case that should be remanded to the Secretary. By this dereliction of responsibility, counsel caused the agency to devote its adjudicatory resources unnecessarily to a rehearing in this case and caused his client to undergo an unnecessary and avoidable delay of about two years in the resolution of this case.