The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELFVIN
Plaintiff has initiated this action pursuant to section 205(g) (42 U.S.C. § 405(g)) of the Social Security Act ("the Act") to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare ("the Secretary") which terminated disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits granted previously to her. The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment.
Plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits and for SSI benefits. Her application for disability insurance benefits was denied initially by the Social Security Administration ("the Administration") November 19, 1976; her application for SSI benefits was denied initially by the Administration on or about that date. Such denials were based upon a finding by the Bureau of Disability Determinations for the State of New York ("the state agency") that plaintiff was not under a disability. Upon reconsideration the state agency found that plaintiff was under a disability beginning April 23, 1976. Said finding of disability was based upon a medical report dated April 26, 1977 by Doctor A who examined plaintiff April 22, 1977 at the request of the state agency. In or about May 1977 the Administration adopted the state agency's finding applications for disability insurance benefits and for SSI benefits retroactive to April 23, 1976. About one year later, the state agency reevaluated plaintiff's applications for benefits and determined June 21, 1978 that her disability had ceased in May 1978. Said finding of cessation of disability was based upon a medical report dated May 9, 1978 by Doctor A who reexamined plaintiff May 5, 1978 at the state agency's request and upon a medical report dated April 10, 1978 by plaintiff's treating physician, Doctor S. The Administration once again adopted the state agency's finding and terminated plaintiff's disability insurance and SSI benefits. Plaintiff requested a de novo hearing and such was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("the ALJ") October 20, 1978.The ALJ issued a decision November 24, 1978 wherein he made the following findings of conclusive and ultimate facts:
"The claimant is 50 years of age and was educated through the seventh grade of grammar school.
"The claimant suffered an injury to her back while at work on April 23, 1976.
"As a result of this injury, the claimant was found eligible for supplemental security income and for disability insurance benefits effective April 23, 1976.
"While claimant may not be able to return to her regular job at this point, the medical evidence of record clearly indicates that she is employable providing the job does not involve lifting or bending.
"The claimant has a residual functional capacity to sit for three hours, stand for one hour, and walk for one hour.
"The claimant has the residual functional capacity to do sedentary work.
"Based on the record as a whole, the claimant's disability ceased as of May 1978, and consequently July 1978 was the last month in which she was eligible for either supplemental security income or title II disability insurance benefits."
The ALJ's decision became final February 24, 1979 when it was approved by the Appeals Council.
It is well established that the Secretary's factual findings must be upheld if they are supported by substantial evidence. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Levine v. Gardner, 380 F.2d 727, 729 (2d Cir. 1966). However, where evidence has not been evaluated properly because of an erroneous view of law, the determination of the Secretary will not be upheld. Northcutt v. Califano, 581 F.2d 164, 167 (8th Cir. 1978); see, Cutler v. Weinberger, 516 F.2d 1282, 1285-86 (2d Cir. 1975).
Plaintiff claims that the findings of the Secretary are not supported by substantial evidence, that the Secretary applied an improper burden of proof standard in evaluating the evidence and that the Secretary's findings are not sufficiently specific to permit adequate judicial review. The Secretary opposes such arguments and asserts that his findings are supported by substantial evidence.
Plaintiff is a 52-year old woman with a seventh grade education. She worked for 17 years as a laborer in a garment factory and more recently for three years as a "coremaker" at a foundry. The back injury which forms the basis of plaintiff's claim of disability ...