The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Miller, District Judge.
In accordance with the statute the Secretary has filed a
certified copy of the transcript of the record, including the
evidence upon which the findings and decision complained of are
The jurisdictional statute, among other things, provides:
"* * * The court shall have power to enter, upon
the pleadings and transcript of the record, a
judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the
decision of the Secretary, with or without remanding
the cause for a rehearing. The findings of the
Secretary as to any fact, if supported by substantial
evidence, shall be conclusive * * *."
The burden of proof, both before the Referee and in the instant
proceeding, is upon the plaintiff. Thurston v. Hobby, D.C.Mo.,
133 F. Supp. 205; Norment v. Hobby, D.C.Ala., 124 F. Supp. 489. Not
only are the findings of fact made by the Referee, if supported
by substantial evidence, conclusive, but a majority of courts
also extend the finality of the Referee's findings to inferences
and conclusions which he draws from the evidence, if there is a
substantial basis for the conclusions. Rosewall v. Folsom, 7
Cir., 239 F.2d 724; United States v. LaLone, 9 Cir., 152 F.2d 43;
Social Security Board v. Warren, 8 Cir., 142 F.2d 974; Walker v.
Altmeyer, 2 Cir., 137 F.2d 531; McGrew v. Hobby, D.C. Kan.,
129 F. Supp. 627; Hemmerle v. Hobby, D.C.N.J., 114 F. Supp. 16; Schmidt
v. Ewing, D.C.Pa., 108 F. Supp. 505; Holland v. Altmeyer,
D.C.Minn., 60 F. Supp. 954.
The Referee's conclusions of law, however, are not binding upon
the Court, although they are entitled to great weight. See,
Miller v. Burger, 9 Cir., 161 F.2d 992; Carroll v. Social
Security Board, 7 Cir., 128 F.2d 876; Ayers v. Hobby, D.C.Va.,
123 F. Supp. 115; Ray v. Social Security Board, D.C.Ala.,
73 F. Supp. 58.
And in reviewing the decision of the Referee, the Court must
not abdicate its conventional judicial function. Universal Camera
Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 340 U.S. 474, 490, 71
S.Ct. 456, 466, 99 L.Ed. 456; Shields v. Folsom, D.C.Pa.,
153 F. Supp. 733, 734.
With these general rules of law in mind, the Court must
consider the record in the instant case. On November 23, 1955,
plaintiff filed an application under 42 U.S.C.A. § 416(i),
seeking to establish a period of disability from May 1, 1946, and
continuously thereafter up to and including the date of the
While that application was pending, on February 15, 1956,
plaintiff filed an application for old-age insurance benefits
payable under 42 U.S.C.A. § 402(a). His wife also filed
application under 42 U.S.C.A. § 402(b) for "wife's insurance
benefits" based on her husband's wage record. Plaintiff and his
wife were awarded benefits, but the question of any possible
period of disability was left open for determination.
On July 16, 1956, plaintiff was notified that his application
for the establishment of a period of disability had been denied,
and that his benefit rate would remain unchanged. Plaintiff
requested a hearing before a Referee, and such hearing was held
at Harrison, Arkansas, on March 19, 1957. Plaintiff was
represented by counsel at the hearing.
The Referee issued his decision on April 15, 1957, holding that
plaintiff was not entitled to a period of disability under
42 U.S.C.A. § 416(i). The Referee's decision was approved by the
Appeals Council on June 11, 1957.
The question before this Court is whether there is substantial
evidence in the record to support the Referee's findings.
The statute in question, 42 U.S.C.A. § 416(i), among other
"(i)(1) Except for purposes of sections 402(d),
423 and 425 of this title, the term `disability'
means (A) inability to engage in any substantial
gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can
be expected to result in death or to be of
long-continued and indefinite duration, * * *. An
individual shall not be considered to be under ...