Plaintiff Salinas filed an application for disability insurance benefits, alleging that he was unable to work. The application was denied administratively, both initially and on reconsideration, after a physician and a disability examiner evaluated the evidence and determined that plaintiff was not disabled. Plaintiff's claim was considered de novo by an administrative law judge of the Social Security Administration, who found that plaintiff was not disabled. On review before the district court under § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42
Our sole duty in reviewing a case such as this one is to determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record to support the findings of the Secretary. Perez v. Schweiker, 653 F.2d 997, 999 (5th Cir. 1981); Rodriguez v. Schweiker, 640 F.2d 682, 685 (5th Cir. 1981). The record contains substantial evidence when there is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusion. Perez, supra, Anderson v. Schweiker, 651 F.2d 306, 308 (5th Cir. 1981).
Plaintiff argues that the absence of any vocational expert at the administrative hearing means that the Secretary's decision was not supported by substantial evidence. We disagree.
The Secretary carefully considered all the medical evidence of record and plaintiff's testimony and determined that although plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work as a grinder in an automotive factory, he possessed residual functional capacity for at least "light work," as defined by 20 C.F.R. § 405.1510(c) (1980), which provides:
This finding of the ALJ is supported by, inter alia, Salinas's own physician who, in his medical report, stated that plaintiff could, in his estimation, lift, carry, push, or pull 10 to 20 pounds.
The difficulty arises, according to Salinas, in the structure of administrative notice provided by the rules. Regulation 20 C.F.R. § 404.1513 discusses 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2, which sets forth rules reflecting the major functional and vocational
Table No. 2 — Residual Functional Capacity: Maximum Sustained Work Capability Limited To Light Work as a Result of Severe Medically Determinable Impairment(s) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rule Age Education Previous Work Experience Decision ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 202.17 Younger Limited Unskilled or None Not individual or less-At Disabled least literate and able to communicate in English
The ALJ concludes that Salinas was not disabled.
Given the explicit factual findings in the record by the ALJ, the existence in the economy of jobs that a person with Salinas's qualifications could fill could be established by administrative notice, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1509(c) (1980).
Although the Secretary may decide to use a vocational expert to establish the existence of work in the national economy that an applicant is capable of performing, it is by no means necessary. The Fourth Circuit has recently upheld the use of these vocational regulations by the Secretary in
Salinas relies on our decision in Johnson v. Harris, 612 F.2d 993 (5th Cir. 1980) to establish the need for a vocational expert. However, in Johnson we remanded for further hearing because of insufficient questioning by the ALJ of the vocational expert; the ALJ asked the vocational expert what sedentary jobs the claimant could do, given his qualifications, but "`disregarding completely any mental or physical impairment which the claimant may have or he found to have.'" 612 F.2d at 998 (emphasis in original). In the present case, the ALJ determined that Salinas's impairments were of sufficient severity so as to limit Salinas to light work — only then did the ALJ consult the vocational regulations. Because Salinas's physical impairments were considered in determining whether he could engage in substantially gainful employment, this case is distinguishable from Johnson.
Salinas's case is also distinguishable from our recent decision Perez v. Schweiker, 653 F.2d 997 (5th Cir. 1981), in which we rejected the use of vocational regulations to establish a lack of claimant's disability. In Perez, we held that the vocational regulations were inapplicable because, by their own terms, these guidelines apply only when all factors used in the tables coincide with the claimant's actual situation, and there was no evidence in the record to indicate that Perez had residual capacity to perform "light" work. In Salinas's case, there was ample evidence in the record to support the ALJ's findings that were then "plugged into" the vocational regulations.
In this case, the use by the Secretary of vocational regulations in lieu of vocational expert testimony was proper, and, therefore, we AFFIRM.
It should also be noted that although no testimony was given by a vocational expert at the hearing, the ALJ was able to consider the report of the Bureau of Disability Insurance vocational specialist who concluded that Salinas retained the residual capacity to perform numerous types of work activity. The specialist listed those activities. Salinas argues that this report is worthless because it was prepared about 16 months before the hearing, and, more importantly, fails to take into account that Salinas now lives in Texas and not Illinois. Salinas's argument ignores the plain language of 20 C.F.R. § 404.1509(9) (1980) which states, consistent with the explicit provision of 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A):
The regulations in 20 C.F.R. Subpart P were substantially revised in 1981. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1501-1598 (1981).