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Fox v. Heckler

November 5, 1985

JAMES FOX, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
MARGARET M. HECKLER, SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. No. F83-0161 -- Gene B. Lee, Magistrate.

Author: Coffey

Before COFFEY and FLAUM, Circuit Judges, and GIBSON, Senior Circuit Judge.*fn*

COFFEY, Circuit Judge. James Fox appeals the final determination of the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary") that he is not disabled. We affirm.

I .

Mr. Fox, a 43 year old man with an eighth grade education applied for disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") on August 25, 1981 alleging that the complications from injuries he received in automobile accidents in 1967 and 1971 met or were the equivalent of a severe impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. 404.1598 (1983) and rendered him disabled as that term is used in the regulations. In the alternative, Fox argued that his impairments were so significant and severe as to prevent him from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Fox submitted medical evidence in an attempt to establish the following impairments:

"(1) Herniated Disk, Low Back Derangement with radiculitis; also described as Lumbar myofasciitis; Lumbar Disk Disease;

(2) Severe degenerative arthritis of the left knee with some degenerative changes of right knee; Traumatic arthritis, both legs and feet, Ankylosis of Left Knee;

(3) Contracture of left little finger;

(4) Mental dullness resulting from residuals of head injuries; post-traumatic encepolopathy;

(5) Pain."

In addition, Fox informed the Secretary that for the past one and a half years he had been employed in a sheltered workshop at the Anthony Wayne Rehabilitation Center assembling telephones.

After Fox's application was denied, he requested a hearing before an administrative law judge who, after holding a hearing and reviewing the evidence, found that Fox's impairments did not prevent him from performing light work and that a significant number of jobs at this exertional level existed in the national economy. Both the Appeals Court of the Department of Health and Human Services and Magistrate Gene Lee, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana affirmed the administrative law judge's determination that Fox was not disabled. On appeal, Fox argues: (1) the administrative law judge, "disregarded and failed to consider and find whether the combination of the Plaintiff's impairments is medically equal to any listed impairment thereby depriving the Plaintiff of a full and fair hearing on his claim for disability benefits;" and (2) the administrative law judge's decision that Fox is not disabled is not supported with substantial evidence.*fn1

II.

To be considered disabled under the Social Security Act, a claimant must be unable to perform any substantial gainful work due to a medical condition that has existed or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. 42 U.S.C. 423(d)(1)(A). The impairment must be so severe as to prevent the claimant from working not only in the claimant's usual occupation, ...


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