Zblewski v. Schweiker

Decision Date16 December 1983
Docket NumberNo. 82-1836,82-1836
Citation732 F.2d 75
Parties, Unempl.Ins.Rep. CCH 15,251 Mary Joyce ZBLEWSKI, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Richard S. SCHWEIKER, Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

David J. Worzalla, McKelvey, Worzalla & Klessig, S.C., Stevens Point, Wis., for plaintiff-appellant.

Krista M. Ralston, Asst. U.S. Atty., and John R. Byrnes, U.S. Atty., Madison, Wis., Steven J. Plotkin, Dept. of Health & Human Services, Chicago, Ill., for defendant-appellee.

Before WOOD, POSNER and FLAUM, Circuit Judges.

FLAUM, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff-appellant brought suit under section 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 405(g), seeking judicial review of the Secretary's final decision denying claimant's 1 applications for disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The district court declined to reverse the Secretary's determination.

Claimant, a 49-year-old truck driver, filed applications for disability benefits and SSI in 1977 alleging that he had been disabled and unable to work since December 4, 1975; on that date he had been exposed to carbon monoxide from a leaky exhaust system in the truck he was driving, and this triggered symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of heart disease. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. After a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at which the reports of several doctors were admitted and plaintiff, claimant, his representative, and a vocational expert testified, the ALJ concluded that claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act; although claimant was unable to return to work as a truck driver, he retained the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work. The Appeals Council approved this decision on May 3, 1978. After receiving notification that claimant had died April 3, 1978, following surgery for replacement of an aortic valve, the Appeals Council reconsidered the matter, but concluded that there was no basis for vacating its previous decision. 2 The ALJ's decision thus stood as the Secretary's final determination.

According to claimant's testimony, his physical problems included the following: dizzy spells with nausea which occurred at least two times a week and lasted for several minutes; shortness of breath at rest as well as after exertion; constant headaches and pain in the left rib cage; numbness and weakness in his left arm, hand, and fingers; poor vision; nervous tension; and chronic diarrhea. He could stand for only 15 minutes and sit for only 45 minutes before experiencing dizziness. He occasionally helped his wife wash dishes, but otherwise did very little housework. He had no hobbies and watched television often, but was unable to read more than a paragraph at a time. He could walk three-and-a-half blocks to the post office, but had been advised by his doctor not to do any lifting. Claimant also testified: that he was unable to sit during an eight hour work day; that he could not do any fine work with his hands due to his poor vision, but could see to do soldering on larger items; and that he could not do piece work or work under pressure because of his nervous tension. He took prenestrol, oreopin, valium, and darvon every day, and nitroglycerine as necessary for shortness of breath and chest pain. Claimant's wife testified that he had a seizure whenever he tried to exert himself; that she had to help him out of the bathtub; and that the treating physician, Dr. Robert H. Bickford, had told her always to accompany her husband because of his seizures.

The medical evidence, consisting of hospital records and of two physicians' reports and their responses to inquiries from the Social Security Administration, spans the period from December 1975 to February 1978. The reports indicate that claimant had a serious and deteriorating heart condition, with eventual aortic valve replacement surgery anticipated. (There was some suggestion that the replacement valve was a new device, and it would be better to delay non-emergency surgery until there was more experience with it.) The physicians reported at various times that claimant could handle work less strenuous than over the road truck driving, and that he was totally incapacitated and would remain so until after surgery. 3

The only question before the district court, and on appeal, is whether there is substantial evidence in the record taken as a whole to support the Secretary's conclusion that claimant was capable of sedentary work. Plaintiff argues that substantial evidence is lacking because the ALJ could have reached his decision only by ignoring all of claimant's uncontradicted testimony concerning his subjective experience of pain and physical and emotional disability, as well as certain statements from both Dr. Bickford and Dr. Emmanuel. As an indication that subjective evidence was ignored, plaintiff points to the ALJ's use of two hypothetical questions propounded to the vocational expert. The ALJ first asked the expert whether claimant could perform gainful work if he had all the pain and limitations he claimed, and the expert replied that claimant could not. The ALJ then asked whether claimant could work if he was unable to stand or walk for prolonged periods and was subject to anginal attacks upon exertion, but was able to sit for long periods and had no problems with vision, tension or numbness in his fingers. The expert was explicitly instructed to exclude from consideration claimant's ulcer and the testimony concerning nervousness. There was also no mention of any effects of medication. (Both hypotheticals assumed claimant's age, education, and work experience.) To this second question, the vocational expert responded that claimant would be capable of sedentary work (e.g., electronics assembly), and that such work was available in the area.

In finding that claimant was not disabled, the ALJ apparently relied on the answer to the second hypothetical, implicitly rejecting the evidence that claimant was incapable of sedentary work. The magistrate, to whom the district court referred the case, recommended reversal of the ALJ on the ground that he had failed to explain why he rejected all the evidence consistent with a finding of disability. In rejecting this recommendation, the district court noted that a reviewing court's task is much easier when the ALJ articulates his reasons for rejecting or accepting particular testimony. The court nevertheless concluded that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
362 cases
  • Johnson v. Heckler
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • July 30, 1985
    ...decisions in this circuit is still a matter of debate. Compare Stephens v. Heckler, 766 F.2d 284 (7th Cir.1985), with Zblewski v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75 (7th Cir.1984). Zblewski stresses the need for a "minimum level of articulation," Zblewski, 732 F.2d at 78, in ALJ findings, while Stephen......
  • Lopez v. SECRETARY, DHHS
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • June 10, 1992
    ...medical evidence exists, an ALJ is not required to articulate every piece of evidence in his written decision. Zblewski v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75 (7th Cir.1984). An ALJ cannot practically discuss every piece of evidence in his written report and to require him to do so would be fruitless. G......
  • Watson v. Bowen
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana
    • October 22, 1987
    ...Halvorsen v. Heckler, 743 F.2d 1221, 1226 (8th Cir.1984); Garfield v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 605, 609 (7th Cir.1984); Zblewski v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75 (7th Cir.1984). The ALJ is additionally required to explain why he or she rejects uncontradicted evidence. Stephens v. Heckler, 766 F.2d 284,......
  • Scott v. Heckler, 84-2950
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • July 22, 1985
    ...see, e.g., Halvorsen v. Heckler, 743 F.2d 1221 (7th Cir.1984); Garfield v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 605 (7th Cir.1984); Zblewski v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75 (7th Cir.1984), or reversed the denial of benefits, see, e.g., Taylor v. Schweiker, 739 F.2d 1240 (7th Cir.1984); Whitney v. Schweiker, 695 F......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
12 books & journal articles
  • SSR 96-2p: Giving Controlling Weight to Treating Source Medical Opinions
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Social Security Disability Advocate's Handbook. Volume 1 - 2014 Contents
    • August 18, 2014
    ...evidence the court must send the case back, for it cannot tell whether the ALJ fulfilled his statutory duty”); Zblewski v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75, 79 (7th Cir. 1984) (same). For the foregoing reasons, I am unable to follow the path of the ALJ’s reasoning in rejecting the opinion of the trea......
  • Case survey
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Bohr's Social Security Issues Annotated - Volume I
    • May 4, 2015
    ...Groves v. Apfel , 148 F.3d 809, 811 (7th Cir. 1998), citing Herron v. Shalala , 19 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 1994); Zblewski v. Schweiker , 732 F.2d 75, 78-79 (7th Cir. 1984); Jones v. Chater , 65 F.3d 102, 103 (8th Cir. 1995); Prince v. Bowen , 894 F.2d 283, 285-86 (8th Cir. 1990). See also ......
  • Standards of Review and Federal Court Remedies
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Social Security Disability Advocate's Handbook Content
    • May 4, 2020
    ...Health and Human Services , 957 F.2d 386, 393 (7th Cir. 1992); Bauzo v. Bowen , 803 F.2d 917, 920 (7th Cir. 1986); Zblewski v. Schweiker , 732 F.2d 75, 78-79 (7th Cir. 1984). Therefore, the ALJ’s decision did not have a reasonable connection between the facts and the conclusion. For this re......
  • Table of cases
    • United States
    • James Publishing Practical Law Books Archive Social Security Issues Annotated. Vol. II - 2014 Contents
    • August 3, 2014
    ...Heckler , 760 F.2d 160, 166 (7th Cir. 1985), § 203.1 Zatz v. Astrue , 346 F. App’x 107, 111 (7th Cir. 2009), 2d-13 Zblewski v. Schweiker , 732 F.2d 75, 78-79 (7th Cir. 1984), § 203.1 Zeff v. Shalala, 45 F.3d 441 (Table), No. 94-5076, slip op. at *1 (10th Cir. Dec. 29, 1994), § 1210.8 Zeigle......
  • 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