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Kangas v. Bowen

argued: June 16, 1987.

JOHN KANGAS, APPELLANT
v.
OTIS R. BOWEN, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, APPELLEE



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA - ERIE, D.C. Civil No. 86-143.

Author: Seitz

Before: SEITZ, MANSMANN, Circuit Judges, and DEBEVOISE, District Judge.*fn*

Opinion OF THE COURT

SEITZ, Circuit Judge.

Appellant John Kangas appeals from an order of the district court which affirmed a final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services denying disability benefits. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 (1982).

I.

John Kangas had been employed at a machine shop/foundry as a janitor until February 8, 1984, when he became unable to work because of difficulty with his lungs. At the time, Kangas was 46 years old. Kangas applied for Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act on October 22, 1984, alleging disability due to lung disease His application was denied at both the initial and reconsideration stages. He then requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

The records before the ALJ showed that Kangas was hospitalized eight times in the sixteen-month period between August 1984 and December 1984. Six of these hospitalizations were for acute exacerbations of his chronic lung disease, usually involving some type of pulmonary infection. The medical advisor, who appeared at the hearing at the request of the ALJ, testified that Kangas "had had frequent lung infections requiring hospitalization, sometimes every two to three months, which could be bronchitis or pneumonia. [His] exacerbations have required seven to ten days of hospitalization, and are followed by a one week to two week recovery period at home." ALJ decision, Admin. Tr. at 14. The medical advisor further testified that Kangas was capable of performing work activity when was not suffering from an exacerbation.

In a decision dated January 29, 1986, the ALJ found that the medical evidence established that Kangas had severe restrictive lung disease with frequent pulmonary infections. However, because the ALJ found that Kangas did not have an impairment or combination of impairments listed in, or medically equal to one listed in 20 C.F.R. Regulations No. 4, Appendix 1, Subpt. P, he determined that Kangas was not per se disabled.

The ALJ further found that Kangas did not have shortness of breath, discomfort, or limitation of function of a level of severity or frequency that would preclude him from performing a wide range of work of sedentary exertional requirements. Kangas' capacity for a full range of sedentary work was, however, found to be reduced by the limitations that he could not perform work involving exposure to excessive dust, fumes or extreme temperatures.

The ALJ concluded that although Kangas' additional nonexertional limitations did not allow him to perform the full range of sedentary work, there were nevertheless a significant number of jobs in the national economy that he could perform. Consequently, the ALJ found that Kangas was not under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act. This decision was adopted by the Secretary.

The district court affirmed the Secretary's decision, concluding that it was based on substantial evidence. The district court also refused Kangas' request to remand to the Secretary to revaluate in light of records of hospitalizations that occurred after the Secretary's decision. This appeal followed.

II.

Our review of a decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services is based on whether there was substantial evidence to support the Secretary's decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (1982). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Id.; see Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 28 L. Ed. ...


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