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March 9, 1987


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


The Plaintiff, Robert Jones, filed suit against the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services ("the Secretary") seeking review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) of a final decision by the Secretary which denied him entitlement to a disability period and disability insurance benefits.

In order to qualify for a period of disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act ("Act"), an individual must meet the insured status requirements under the Act, be under the age of sixty-five, file an application for disability insurance benefits and a period of disability, and be under a disability as defined in the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 416(i), 423; Griffin v. Weinberger, 407 F. Supp. 1388, 1392 (N.D.Ill. 1975), aff'd. 539 F.2d 712 (7th Cir. 1976). The determination of a disability which entitles a claimant to benefits under the Act is a two-step process:

  1.  There must be a medically determinable
      physical or mental impairment which can be
      expected to last for a continuous period of
      not less than twelve months or be expected to
      result in the death of the claimant; and
  2.  There must be a factual determination that
      the impairment renders the plaintiff unable
      to engage in any substantial gainful

McNeil v. Califano, 614 F.2d 142, 143 (7th Cir. 1980); Lieberman v. Califano, 592 F.2d 986 (7th Cir. 1979); 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).

The burden of proof is on the claimant to establish his or her entitlement to disability insurance benefits. Jeralds v. Richardson, 445 F.2d 36 (7th Cir. 1971). However, once he has shown that he can no longer perform the kind of work in which he was previously engaged, the burden shifts to the Secretary to prove that there are other jobs which the claimant can perform and that such jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy. Stark v. Weinberger, 497 F.2d 1092 (7th Cir. 1974).

Judicial review of an Administrative Law Judge's findings pursuant to these standards is limited to a determination of whether the findings are supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Lechelt v. Cohen, 428 F.2d 214 (7th Cir. 1970). In determining whether the Administrative Law Judge's findings are supported by substantial evidence, the court must decide whether the record contains such relevant evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support the findings. See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971). It is not the function of the court on review to try the case de novo or to supplant the Administrative Law Judge's findings with the court's own assessment of the evidence. This court can only determine whether the Administrative Law Judge's findings were supported by substantial evidence. Torres v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 677 F.2d 167 (1st Cir. 1982); Cummins v. Schweiker, 670 F.2d 81 (7th Cir. 1982).

If there is a conflict in the evidence, the burden is upon the claimant to prove that he or she meets the requirements of eligibility. Johnson v. Weinberger, 525 F.2d 403, 407 (7th Cir. 1975). In addition, an Administrative Law Judge's credibility determination regarding subjective evidence should be given considerable weight by the court. Bibbs v. Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare, 626 F.2d 526, 528 (7th Cir. 1980).

The district court must consider four elements of proof in determining whether a claimant is disabled under the Act: (1) objective medical facts or clinical findings; (2) diagnosis of examining physicians; (3) subjective evidence of pain and disability as testified to by the claimant and as observed by others; and (4) the claimant's age, education, and work history. Johnson v. Weinberger, 525 F.2d at 407.

The Plaintiff, Robert G. Jones, applied for disability insurance benefits on November 1, 1983. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially, on reconsideration, and after a de novo hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in an order dated January 25, 1985. The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review on May 30, 1985, at which time the ALJ's decision denying the Plaintiff benefits became the final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Mr. Jones alleges that he is disabled due to severe pain that occurs mainly in his chest area. He testified at the hearing before the ALJ that he has experienced the pain for more than nine years, and, even though it can be caused by exertion, many times it is non-exertional in nature. Mr. Jones testified that the pain prevents him from sleeping properly and that his overall situation in life has caused him to become angry, depressed, and frustrated.

After considering the evidence in the record and the testimony of the claimant, the ALJ reached the following conclusions:

  * The claimant met the disability insured status
    requirements of the Social Security Act on
    April 29, 1983, and the claimant has not
    engaged in

    substantial ...

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