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MABLES v. SULLIVAN

January 20, 1993

RONALD C. MABLES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LOUIS M. SULLIVAN, M.D., SECRETARY FOR THE DEPT. OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Reversal [Doc. # 13, Part 1] and Defendant's Motion to Affirm [Doc. # 14, Part 1]. At issue is whether the ALJ properly applied the legal standards for "continuing disability" reviews to the facts of this case. See 42 U.S.C. § 423(f); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1594(f)(1)-(8). For the reasons stated below, the Court REVERSES the Secretary's decision, and REMANDS this case for rehearing. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Reversal is GRANTED, and the Defendant's Motion to Affirm is DENIED.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On October 22, 1987,*fn1 the Social Security Administration (SSA) determined that Plaintiff, Ronald C. Mables, was disabled, pursuant to 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, § 1.11 (1991),*fn2 and entitled to disability benefits. (AR 13).*fn3 On August 2, 1989,*fn4 Plaintiff received notice that his benefits were being terminated because his disability had ceased according to the available medical evidence. (AR 13, 16, 70-72).*fn5 On February 23, 1990, at a hearing held before the ALJ, Alan Wienman, Plaintiff appealed the decision by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to terminate his benefits. (AR 25-48). On August 10, 1990, the ALJ entered an Order, finding that Plaintiff was no longer disabled because medical evidence indicated improvement of Plaintiff's original impairments related to his ability to do a "full-range of sedentary work"*fn6 for which he was vocationally qualified. (AR 11-19). See Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 416(i), 423(d), (f); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1594(f)(8) (1992). On October 3, 1990, Plaintiff requested a review of the ALJ's decision. (AR 7). On March 27, 1991, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, (AR 4) making the ALJ's decision a final judgment from which this appeal was taken.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Ronald C. Mables currently suffers from degenerative arthritis in his left ankle, pain in his lower back, and an alleged inability to sit or walk for prolonged periods of time. (AR 15-16). Plaintiff is also unable to lift or carry more than a few pounds, and he cannot climb, balance, stoop, crouch, kneel or crawl. (AR 16). Plaintiff has manifested each of these problems since August 1, 1989, (AR 25-48), the date Plaintiff was notified that his disability insurance benefits were to be terminated. (AR 18). At issue is whether Plaintiff has a "continuing disability" pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.1594(f)(1)-(8).

THE LEGAL STANDARDS

The standard of review for termination of disability benefits is controlled by 42 U.S.C. § 423(f) which states:

  42 U.S.C. § 423(f). Standard of review for
  termination of disability benefits.
    A recipient of benefits under this subchapter or
  subchapter XVIII of this chapter based on the
  disability of any individual may be determined not to
  be entitled to such benefits on the basis of a
  finding that the physical or mental impairment on the
  basis of which such benefits are provided has ceased,
  does not exist, or is not disabling only if such
  finding is supported by —

(1) substantial evidence which demonstrates that —

    (A) there has been any medical improvement in the
    individual's impairment or combination of
    impairments (other than medical improvement which
    is not related to the individual's ability to
    work), and
    (B)(i) the individual is now able to engage in
    substantial gainful activity. . . .
    Any determination under this subsection shall be
  made on the basis of all the evidence available in
  the individual's case file, including new evidence
  concerning the individual's prior or current
  condition which is presented by the individual or
  secured by the Secretary. Any determination made
  under this section shall be made on the basis of the
  weight of the evidence and on a neutral basis with
  regard to the individual's condition, without any
  initial inference as to the ...

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