United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
DAWN M. GAMRET, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Defendant
For DAWN M. GAMRET, Plaintiff: E. David Harr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Greensburg, PA.
For MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant: Colin Callahan, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, Pittsburgh, PA.
OPINION AND ORDER
Donetta W. Ambrose, Senior United States District Judge.
In this action, Plaintiff filed for disability benefits pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 401 et seq. Plaintiff claims disability primarily due to lymphedema in her right arm and side, and complications from breast cancer; her application also raised mental impairments of depressive disorder and panic disorder. The claims were denied initially, and on rehearing. The Appeals Counsel denied Plaintiff's Request for Review. Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion will be granted, and Defendant's denied.
I. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Judicial review of the Commissioner's final decisions on disability claims is
provided by statute. 42 U.S.C. § § 405(g) 6 and 1383(c)(3) 7. Section 405(g) permits a district court to review the transcripts and records upon which a determination of the Commissioner is based, and the court will review the record as a whole. See 5 U.S.C. § 706. When reviewing a decision, the district court's role is limited to determining whether the record contains substantial evidence to support an ALJ's findings of fact. Burns v. Barnhart, 312 F.3d 113, 118 (3d Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is defined as " such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate" to support a conclusion. Ventura v. Shalala, 55 F.3d 900, 901 (3d Cir. 1995) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971)). If the ALJ's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, they are conclusive. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson, 402 U.S. at 390.
A district court cannot conduct a de novo review of the Commissioner's decision, or re-weigh the evidence of record; the court can only judge the propriety of the decision with reference to the grounds invoked by the Commissioner when the decision was rendered. Palmer v. Apfel, 995 F.Supp. 549, 552 (E.D. Pa. 1998); S.E ...