The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mercer, Chief Judge.
Jurisdiction is here conferred by Title 42 U.S.C.A. § 405(g),
which also provides that any administrative findings of fact are
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. However, the
Hearing Examiner did not make any finding of fact as such, and
his written decision is in the form of Judicial Opinion. In the
Court's opinion, his failure to specifically find, makes
impossible a proper review where the evidence is controverted.
Fortunately the evidence in this case is not in dispute;
therefore, regardless of the impropriety of the Examiner's
opinion, the Court is in a position to determine whether or not
the administrative conclusion of fact and law is substantially
supported by the uncontradicted evidence in the administrative
There appears to be no question and the parties seem to agree
that under the Act the period of disability, if allowed, would
have to commence no later than September 17, 1956, nor does the
Secretary question the continuity of such disability from and
after the last-mentioned date. The sole question, as stated by
"The issue before the hearing examiner is whether
the claimant is entitled to a period of disability
under the provisions of Section 216(i)(1) of the
Social Security Act, as amended, and whether the
claimant is entitled to disability insurance benefits
under the provisions of Section 223(a)(1) of the
Social Security Act, as amended; specifically whether
claimant has been under a physical impairment of such
severity as to prevent him from engaging in any
substantial gainful activity." (Tr. 9)
The applicable statutory provisions define disability as
inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason
of medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can
be expected to result in death or to be of long continued and
As mentioned, administrative findings if supported by
substantial evidence are conclusive. However, on review, the
Court is to consider the entire record. Further, in examining the
record, particularly as here where the evidence is undisputed,
the Court not only has a right but has a duty, to correct
erroneous inferences and conclusions from that evidence. This and
all courts must assume responsibility for the reasonableness and
fairness of decisions of Federal agencies and when sitting on
review, all courts must be influenced by a feeling that they are
not free to abdicate the conventional judicial function.
Universal Camera Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 1951,
340 U.S. 474, 490, 71 S.Ct. 456, 466, 95 L.Ed. 456; Goldman v.
Folsom, 3 Cir., 1957, 246 F.2d 776; Sobel v. Flemming, D.C. 1959,
178 F. Supp. 891.
The record in this case indicates the following: The plaintiff
was born on September 1, 1897. He had only eight years of
elementary school education. He had no additional formal
education nor did he have any other training in trade or night
schools, etc. His life's occupations included farming until the
year 1922. In the year 1922, he went to work for Walworth Company
and continued in the employ of that company until the
commencement of his disability in 1956. His original duties were
that of a truck helper and later a truck driver. He worked in
these capacities until about 1944. He then became a supervisor
and dispatcher. In this capacity it was his job to assign work,
check railroad cars, keep records, etc. Among other things this
work required walking over 38 acres of railroad tracks in order
to record numbers and names on the box cars.
"Remarks: This patient apparently has a well
controlled Pernicious Anemia but cord changes are
present and probably will not improve since they have
not done tremendously in the last two years. This
patient apparently cannot do his regular work but I
can see no reason why he could not do some type of
work where he is sitting and using his head rather
than his hands. If possible, a job as elevator
operator, watchman or some other sedentary occupation
should be satisfactory for him." (Tr. 100)
Dr. H.R. Varney, in his report dated December 17, 1959, states:
"The above is physically unable to carry on gainful
occupation. He has Pernicious anemia, poly neuritis
of back and hips and involvement of the spinal cord."
The non-medical corroboration is also most significant. F.A.
Mulholland, general foreman of Walworth Company, and Cecil
Parker, testify without contradiction as to plaintiff's life-long
work habits of industry and reliability and also express the
opinion that if plaintiff could work, he would.
The Examiner concluded from these facts that "claimant
undoubtedly has suffered a severe impairment". He goes on,
however, and makes note of certain activities, to-wit: running a
sweeper, making beds, washing windows, shopping, driving a car
considerable distances, etc. He also notes the possibility of
light or sedentary work and hence concludes that plaintiff's
impairment is not of the degree of severity so as to meet the
rigid definition of disability as provided by the Act.
On the basis of the entire record, the Court cannot find that
there is any substantial evidence to support the decision of the
Secretary. The reliance by the Examiner on sporadic non-activity
by plaintiff does not justify the denial, nor is the Examiner's
determination that the possibility of certain types of light work
might be available, suitable to meet the test. The Examiner
himself found plaintiff had "suffered a severe impairment".
Perhaps most ...