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HAWWAT v. HECKLER

December 12, 1984

DURGHAM HAWWAT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARGARET HECKLER, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.

ORDER

Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, both motions are denied and this cause is remanded for further proceeding consistent with this opinion.

FACTS

Durgham Hawwat is 63 years old with four years of schooling in Palestine. He cannot read or write English and he speaks very little English. In order to understand English-speaking persons, plaintiff requires an interpreter.

Plaintiff claimed disability by reason of asthma and breathing impairments. One of plaintiff's treating physicians, Dr. Isa Ziadek, concluded that plaintiff has "advanced obstructive airway disease with severe respiratory insufficiency which is fully disabling him." Tr. 129. Another treating physician, Dr. J. Lafair, concluded that plaintiff suffers from "severe chronic asthma and a degree of respiratory insufficiency which would limit his ability to be fully active." Tr. 122. The ALJ, however, rejected these reports and, instead, relying upon the report of a consulting physician, Dr. B. Stevens, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff "does not have any breathing impairment which would preclude his past relevant light machine work." Tr. 9.

At a hearing before the ALJ on August 11, 1983, plaintiff was not represented by an attorney, and since he is unable to communicate in English, an interpreter was necessary. Even with the aid of the interpreter, however, the record reveals obvious communication difficulties. Shortly after the hearing began, the ALJ noted:

    ALJ: . . . since he stopped working in '73, his
  insured status for disability purposes ends in
  1978. Therefore, it's very important for us to
  find out what was going on before 1978. Okay?

INTERPRETER: Okay, your honor.

ALJ: All right, does he understand that now?

INTERPRETER: He wants me to repeat it again.

    ALJ: Is he saying he doesn't understand it or
  he does?
    INTERPRETER: He said, "What does he say," so
  this means he is asking you again, your honor.
    ALJ: All right, tell him this: This is not a
  charity program, okay. This is a program where
  people have to work to get insured status. If
  they don't work, they can't make the kind of
  claim that he's making. All right? ...

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