United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
Donetta W. Ambrose United States Senior District Judge
before the court are Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF
Nos. 10 and 12). After careful consideration of the
submissions of the parties, and based on my Opinion set forth
below, I am denying Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment
(ECF No. 10) and granting Defendant's Motion for Summary
Judgment. (ECF No. 12).
brought this action for review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security finding her son no longer
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.
Initially, Plaintiff's son, L.C., was found to be
disabled as of March 9, 2009, based on Listing 113.03A due to
kidney cancer. (ECF No. 6-3, p. 47). During a continuing
disability review ("CDR"), the Agency found that
L.C.'s disability ceased on April 1, 2014, due to medical
improvement. (ECF No. 6-3, p. 48). Plaintiff requested a
hearing. Id. Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"), Alma S. de Leon, held a hearing on
September 18, 2015. (ECF No. 6-2, pp. 26-46). Plaintiff and
her son appeared pro se. Id. On November 13, 2015,
the ALJ found that L.C.'s disability ended on April 1,
2014. (ECF No. 6-2, pp. 9-19).
exhausting all administrative remedies, Plaintiff filed the
instant action with this court. The parties have filed
Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. (ECF Nos. 10 and 12). The
issues are now ripe for review.
Standard of Review
standard of review in social security cases is whether
substantial evidence exists in the record to support the
Commissioner's decision. Allen v. Bowen, 881
F.2d 37, 39 (3d Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence has been
defined as "more than a mere scintilla. It means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate." Ventura v. Shalala, 55 F.3d 900, 901
(3d Cir. 1995), quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971). Additionally, the Commissioner's
findings of fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are
conclusive. 42 U.S.C. §405(g); Dobrowolsky v.
Califano, 606 F.2d 403, 406 (3d Cir. 1979). A district
court cannot conduct a de novo review of the
Commissioner's decision or re-weigh the evidence of
record. Palmer v. Apfel, 995 F.Supp. 549, 552 (E.D.
Pa. 1998). Where the ALJ's findings of fact are supported
by substantial evidence, a court is bound by those findings,
even if the court would have decided the factual inquiry
differently. Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360
(3d Cir. 1999). To determine whether a finding is supported
by substantial evidence, however, the district court must
review the record as a whole. See, 5 U.S.C.
eligible for social security benefits, the plaintiff must
demonstrate that he cannot engage in substantial gainful
activity because of a medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of at least 12 months. 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A);
Brewster v. Heckler, 786 F.2d 581, 583 (3d Cir.
1986). In cases involving a continuing disability review
("CDR"), entitlement to benefits will be reviewed
periodically. 20 C.F.R. §§404.1594, 416.994. An ALJ
will follow a three step evaluation process for evaluating
CDR claims: 1) has there been a medical
improvement of the condition; 2) does the impairment
still meet or equal the severity of the listed impairment
that it met or equaled before; and 3) is the child currently
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §416.994a(b). To determine if a
child is disabled and eligibility SSI, an ALJ will consider:
1) whether the child is working; 2) whether the child has a
medically determinable impairment that is severe; and 3)
whether the impairment meets, medically equals or
functionally equals the listings. 20 C.F.R. §416.924.
se Plaintiff's letter brief maintains that her son
has had benefits since 2009 and his disease recurred in 2016.
(ECF No. 10). She submits medical records to support the same
dating from June 7, 2016 through September 27, 2016. (ECF No.
mentioned previously, the instant review of the ALJ's
decision is not de novo. The ALJ's findings of
fact are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence.
Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 339, 96 S.Ct.
893, 905 n. 21 (1976); Matthews v. Apfel, 239 F.3d
589, 594 (3d Cir. 2001), citing, Jones v. Sullivan,
954 F.2d 125, 128 (3d Cir. 1991) ("[E]vidence that was
not before the ALJ cannot be used to argue that the ALJ's
decision was not supported by substantial evidence.").
My review of the ALJ's decision is limited to the
evidence that was before him/her. Id.; 42 U.S.C.
§405(g). Therefore, pursuant to Sentence Four of
§405(g), I cannot look at the post-decision evidence
that was not first submitted to the ALJ. In this case, the
ALJ's decision was dated November 18, 2015. (ECF No. 6-2,
p. 19). The evidence submitted by pro se Plaintiff
is dated from June 7, 2016 through September 27, 2016. (ECF
No. 10-1). As a result, this evidence was not before the ALJ
when she rendered her opinion. Consequently, I may not review
the newly proffered records pursuant to Sentence Four of
plaintiff proffers evidence that was not previously presented
to the ALJ, then a district court may remand pursuant to
Sentence Six of 42 U.S.C. §405(g), but only when the
evidence is new and material and supported by a demonstration
of good cause for not having submitted the evidence before
the decision of the ALJ. Matthews v. Apfel, 239 F.3d
589, 591-593 (3d Cir. 2001) (Sentence Six review),
citing, Szubak v. Sec'y of HHS, 745 F.2d 831,
833 (3d Cir. 1984). In Szubak v. Secretary of Health and
Human Services, the Third Circuit explained the
As amended in 1980, '405(g) now requires that to support
a "new evidence" remand, the evidence must first be
"new" and not merely cumulative of what is already
in the record. Second, the evidence must be
"material;" it must be relevant and probative.
Beyond that, the materiality standard requires that there be
a reasonable possibility that the new evidence would have
changed the outcome of the Secretary's determination. An
implicit materiality requirement is that the new evidence
relate to the time period for which benefits were denied, and
that it not concern evidence of a later-acquired disability
or of the subsequent deterioration of the previously