Cook v. Heckler, No. 84-4555

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtBefore RUBIN, RANDALL, and TATE; TATE
Parties, Unempl.Ins.Rep. CCH 15,765 Mary L. COOK, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Margaret M. HECKLER, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Defendant-Appellee. Summary Calendar.
Docket NumberNo. 84-4555
Decision Date11 January 1985

Page 391

750 F.2d 391
8 Soc.Sec.Rep.Ser. 138, Unempl.Ins.Rep. CCH 15,765
Mary L. COOK, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Margaret M. HECKLER, Secretary of Health and Human Services,
Defendant-Appellee.
No. 84-4555
Summary Calendar.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
Jan. 11, 1985.

Page 392

Laurel G. Weir, Thomas L. Booker, Philadelphia, Miss., for plaintiff-appellant.

George Phillips, U.S. Atty., Daniel E. Lynn, Jackson, Miss., for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Before RUBIN, RANDALL, and TATE, Circuit Judges.

TATE, Circuit Judge:

The claimant, Mrs. Mary S. Cook, appeals from a judgment of the district court that, upon her petition for judicial review, affirms the Secretary's denial of disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. After hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), subsequently upheld by the Secretary's Appeals Council, found that, although Mrs. Cook suffers from various impairments, she nevertheless retained the residual function to perform her relevant past work as a nurse's aide and patient sitter. 20 C.F.R. Sec. 404.1520(e).

We reverse and remand to the Secretary, because (as contended by the claimant) we find that the ALJ, in discounting Mrs. Cook's testimony of disabling pain as in consistent with the weight of the medical testimony, overlooked that the uncontroverted medical evidence of her present condition tends instead to corroborate her present complaints of disabling back pain.

I.

In reviewing the decision of the Secretary, the court of appeals is limited to determining whether there was substantial evidence in the record as a whole to support the decision that the claimant is not under a "disability" as defined by the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. Sec. 405(g); Jones v. Heckler, 702 F.2d 616, 620 (5th Cir.1983). See Green v. Schweiker, 694 F.2d 108, 110 (5th Cir.1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1091, 103 S.Ct. 1790, 76 L.Ed.2d 357 (1983). Substantial evidence means "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Jones v. Heckler, supra, 702 F.2d at 620; Green v. Schweiker, supra, 694 F.2d at 110. This court may not, however, reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the administrative fact finder. Jones v. Heckler, supra, 702 F.2d at 620; Green v. Schweiker, supra, 694 F.2d at 110. If substantial evidence

Page 393

supports the administrative finding, we may then only review whether the administrative law judge applied the proper legal standards and conducted the proceedings in conformity with the applicable statutes and regulations. Hernandez v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 857, 859 (5th Cir.1983); Bormey v. Schweiker, 695 F.2d 164, 168 (5th Cir.1983), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 103 S.Ct. 3091, 77 L.Ed.2d 1351 (1983).

However,

This standard of review is not a rubber stamp for the Secretary's decision and involves more than a search for evidence supporting the Secretary's findings. We must scrutinize the record and take into account whatever fairly detracts from the substantiality of evidence supporting the Secretary's findings.

Tome v. Schweiker, 724 F.2d 711, 713 (8th Cir.1984). See Universal Camera Corp. v. NLRB, 340 U.S. 474, 488, 71 S.Ct. 456, 464, 95 L.Ed. 456 (1951), Martin v. Heckler, 748 F.2d 1027, 1031 (5th Cir.1984).

Although there is no doubt that Mrs. Cook suffers from some pain and discomfort, she is not entitled to benefits unless she is "disabled" as that term is defined by the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. Secs. 423(d)(1)(A). See also Heckler v. Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 459-61, 103 S.Ct. 1952, 1953-54, 76 L.Ed.2d 66 (1983). Disability is defined as "the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which ... has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. Secs. 416(i)(1), 423(d)(1)(A). The existence of such disability must be demonstrated by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic findings, and the overall burden of proof rests upon the claimant. 42 U.S.C. Secs. 423(d)(3), (d)(5); Jones v. Heckler, supra, 702 F.2d at 620.

II.

At the hearing before the ALJ, Mrs. Cook was represented by counsel. She testified, corroborated by her husband, of disabling pain due to a back and knee condition that prevented her from doing health-care work, such as making up a bed or lifting patients, as well as to extreme nervousness, dizzy spells and blackouts, allegedly resulting from the medication taken for her back pain and to control her diabetic condition. She testified that she could not bend over or lift anything, and that she could not because of pain get up from bed or dress without her husband's help.

However, based upon his evaluation of the medical evidence, as well as upon Mrs. Cook's demeanor and appearance during the administrative hearing, the ALJ specifically found to be non-credible Mrs. Cook's subjective complaints of disabling pain. 1 Under the ALJ's evaluation of the medical evidence, the arthritic condition of the knees was not severe, the diabetic condition was controlled and...

To continue reading

Request your trial
686 practice notes
  • Markle Interests, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., Civil Action Nos. 13–234
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • August 22, 2014
    ...(1977). The Court may not “reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the administrative fact finder.” Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 392 (5th Cir.1985). “Nevertheless, the agency must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action includ......
  • Burton v. Astrue, CIVIL ACTION NO. H-09-710
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • August 19, 2011
    ...pain is disabling, and the fact that a claimant cannot work without some pain or discomfort will not render her disabled. Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 395 (5th Cir. 1985). The proper standard for evaluating pain is codified in the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984, 42......
  • Markle Interests, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., CIVIL ACTION NO. 13-234 SECTION "F"
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • August 22, 2014
    ...(1977)). The Court may not "reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the administrative fact finder." Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 392 (5th Cir. 1985). "Nevertheless, the agency must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action incl......
  • Brown v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:12CV804
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • March 24, 2014
    ...1988); see Spellman v. Shalala, 1 F.3d 357, 360 (5th Cir. 1993); Anthony v. Sullivan, 954 F.2d 289, 295 (5th Cir. 1992); Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 392 (5th Cir. 1985). Rather, conflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner to decide. Spellman, 1 F.3d 357, 360 (5th Cir. 1993); Selde......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
686 cases
  • Markle Interests, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., Civil Action Nos. 13–234
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • August 22, 2014
    ...(1977). The Court may not “reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the administrative fact finder.” Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 392 (5th Cir.1985). “Nevertheless, the agency must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action includ......
  • Burton v. Astrue, CIVIL ACTION NO. H-09-710
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • August 19, 2011
    ...pain is disabling, and the fact that a claimant cannot work without some pain or discomfort will not render her disabled. Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 395 (5th Cir. 1985). The proper standard for evaluating pain is codified in the Social Security Disability Benefits Reform Act of 1984, 42......
  • Markle Interests, LLC v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., CIVIL ACTION NO. 13-234 SECTION "F"
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana)
    • August 22, 2014
    ...(1977)). The Court may not "reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the administrative fact finder." Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 392 (5th Cir. 1985). "Nevertheless, the agency must examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action incl......
  • Brown v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., CIVIL ACTION NO. 6:12CV804
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District Texas
    • March 24, 2014
    ...1988); see Spellman v. Shalala, 1 F.3d 357, 360 (5th Cir. 1993); Anthony v. Sullivan, 954 F.2d 289, 295 (5th Cir. 1992); Cook v. Heckler, 750 F.2d 391, 392 (5th Cir. 1985). Rather, conflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner to decide. Spellman, 1 F.3d 357, 360 (5th Cir. 1993); Selde......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT