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JACKSON v. HECKLER
August 24, 1984
LAURA JACKSON, PLAINTIFF,
MARGARET M. HECKLER, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Laura Jackson ("Jackson") seeks judicial review of a final decision of
the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary") denying Jackson
a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. Jackson's claim
under Social Security Act ("Act") §§ 216(i) and 223,
42 U.S.C. § 416(i) and 423, was denied by ALJ Charles Walsh ("ALJ
Walsh" or simply the "ALJ") after an April 19, 1983 hearing. Jackson then
exhausted her administrative remedies (a process that resulted in the
ALJ's decision becoming Secretary's) and brought this action against
Secretary under Act § 205(g), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
As is customary in these cases, the parties have filed cross-motions
for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56. In this case the
ALJ's decision (which became Secretary's) rested on his finding Jackson
could return to her past relevant work if it were available. Jackson
contends the ALJ's findings are not supported by "substantial evidence"
because record evidence does not support the propositions that:
1. Jackson's disabilities are not "severe."
2. Jackson can return to her past work as a sewing
For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, Secretary's
motion is granted and Jackson's is denied.
Jackson was 57 years old at the date of the ALJ hearing and has an
eleventh grade education. Until she was laid off in 1980 she worked for a
number of years as a sewing machine operator for Brown's Industrial
Uniforms, Inc. Her work required her to bend and reach, as well as to do
close work with her hands, but little or no standing was required. She
claims she has been disabled since April 30, 1981 with swelling of her
legs, bursitis, osteoarthritis and adult-onset diabetes mellitus. In
addition to her testimony, the record contains four medical opinions:
1. On November 14, 1981 Dr. Phillip Foley reported
after a single examination (R. 93) Jackson suffers
from "some early degenerative osteoarthritis of the
right knee" and "Low grade bursitis of the right
shoulder." He concluded Jackson could do "light work
with occasional climbing, frequent bending, stooping
and operating foot controls" and added, "Handling
and fingering are all right."
2. On December 19, 1981 Dr. Virgilio Jonson
dictated a discharge summary covering Jackson's
just-concluded six-day stay at Roseland Community
Hospital ("Roseland") (R. 94-95). He had diagnosed
Jackson's diabetic condition for the first time. In
addition he found Jackson had "osteoarthritis of the
cervical and lumbar spine" and "generalized edema,"
or fluid buildup in the tissues, of unknown source.
However she was discharged "with no limitation of
her activity" after a diabetic diet and
anti-swelling drugs improved her condition
3. On March 24, 1982 Dr. Mamie Long filed a report
after a single examination of Jackson (R. 103-05).
She found evidence of "Degenerative joint disease
changes of the right shoulder and right knee with
complaints of arthralgias in these areas" and "Adult
onset diabetes mellitus." She also reported that by
Jackson's own account she had experienced
"congestive heart failure compensated at this
time."*fn1 Dr. Long really made no findings bearing
ultimate issues such as whether Jackson could do
either her past work or work-related activities in
4. On February 16, 1983 Dr. Pascual Sales reported
treating Jackson at Roseland for a week in early
1983 (R. 118-23). He found pain and tenderness of
the stomach and right flank ("acute abdomen
secondary to acute pyelonephritis, right"), which
improved on treatment with antibiotics and a soft
low sodium diet. Jackson was discharged with "no
restriction of her ambulation." Dr. Sales submitted
a letter May 14, 1983 (R. 143), which read in its
Ms. Laura Jackson has been under medical care for
recurrent swelling and edema to the both [sic]
lower extremeties [sic] more so to her right leg.
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