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                                    BRB No. 92-604
                                         
MARIE E. BLAKESLEY                      )
                                        )
          Claimant-Petitioner           )
                                        )
     v.                                 )
                                        )
MARINE POWER & EQUIPMENT                )    DATE ISSUED:   02/23/1995
COMPANY                                 )    
                                        )
     and                                )
                                        )
INDUSTRIAL INDEMNITY                    )
INSURANCE COMPANY                       )
                                        )
          Employer/Carrier-             )
          Respondents                   )    DECISION and ORDER


     Appeal of the Decision and Order Denying Benefits of Edward C. Burch,
     Administrative Law Judge, United States Department of Labor.

     James R. Walsh, Lynnwood, Washington, for claimant.

     Russell A. Metz (Metz, Frol & Jorgensen, P.S.), Seattle, Washington, for
     employer/carrier.

     Before:  HALL, Chief Administrative Appeals Judge, SMITH and McGRANERY,
     Administrative Appeals Judges.

     PER CURIAM:

     Claimant appeals the Decision and Order Denying Benefits (90-LHC-2685) of
Administrative Law Judge Edward C. Burch rendered on a claim filed pursuant to the
provisions of the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, as amended, 33
U.S.C. §901 et seq. (the Act).  We must affirm the findings of fact and
conclusions of law of the administrative law judge if they are rational, supported
by substantial evidence, and in accordance with law. O'Keeffe v. Smith, Hinchman
& Grylls Associates, Inc., 380 U.S. 359 (1965); 33 U.S.C. §921(b)(3).       

     While working for employer as a welder, claimant suffered  a shoulder strain
on April 9, 1984.  She worked light duty from May 1, 1984 through June 4, 1984, and
has not worked since that date.[1]   Based on Dr.
Compton's opinion, the administrative law judge found that claimant reached maximum
medical improvement on May 8, 1985. He further found, based on the opinions of Drs.
Brown, Compton, Clancy, Kvidera, McCollum and Verret, that claimant completely
recovered from her injury as of this date, and could perform her usual work.  The
administrative law judge awarded claimant temporary total disability benefits from
April 9, 1984 to April 29, 1984 and from June 5, 1985 to May 8, 1985.  He denied
claimant reimbursement for her medical expenses incurred from Drs. Steger, Brown
and Patterson because claimant had not requested authorization for their treatment,
and denied claimant coverage for further medical treatment because he found she had
completely recovered from her work-related injury.     

     On appeal, claimant contends that the preponderance of the evidence
establishes that she is unable to perform her usual work as a welder and was not
medically stationary as of May 8, 1985.   Claimant contends that many of the
doctors, particularly her treating physicians, opined that claimant had spasms in
her shoulder, that she required some kind of ongoing medical treatment, and either
placed restrictions on her or stated she could not perform the work of a welder. 
Employer responds, urging affirmance of the administrative law judge's decision.

     To establish a prima facie case of total disability, claimant must show
that she cannot return to her regular or usual employment due to her work-related
injury. Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association v. Abbott, 40  F.3d 122,
127 (5th Cir. 1994).  An employee may be considered to be permanently disabled when
she reaches maximum medical improvement, the date of which is determined solely by
medical evidence. Sketoe v. Dolphin Titan International,   BRBS   , BRB Nos.
93-817/A (Sept. 15, 1994)(Smith, J., dissenting on other grounds); Trask v.
Lockheed Shipbuilding & Construction Co., 17 BRBS 56, 61 (1985).  
     We hold that the administrative law judge rationally determined that claimant
reached maximum medical improvement on May 5, 1985, based on Dr. Compton's opinion
to that effect. Mason v. Baltimore Stevedoring Co., 22 BRBS 413 (1989). 
Moreover, the administrative law judge rationally determined that claimant
completely recovered from her injury and could perform her usual work.  He based
this finding on the opinions of Drs. Kvidera, Clancy, and McCollum that claimant
could perform her usual work, Dr. Compton's opinion that claimant had no objective
symptoms of disability, Dr. Verret's opinion that claimant is not well-motivated,
and claimant's testimony that she had personal reasons for not working.[2]   The administrative law judge is not bound to
accept the opinion or theory of claimant's treating physician; rather, he is
entitled to evaluate the credibility of all witnesses, including doctors, weigh the
medical evidence, and draw his own inferences and conclusions from it. See
Calbeck v. Strachan Shipping Co., 306 F.2d 693 (5th Cir. 1962), cert.
denied, 372 U.S. 954 (1963); Todd Shipyards Corp. v. Donovan, 300 F.2d
741 (5th Cir. 1962); John W. McGrath Corp. v. Hughes, 289 F.2d 403 (2d Cir.
1961).  Although Dr. Verret stated that claimant should be rehabilitated for
lighter work, and Dr. Comptom stated claimant had a residual minimal impairment,
the administrative law judge rationally concluded that their reports, in
conjunction with other evidence of record, demonstrate that claimant is not
precluded from performing her usual work.  Inasmuch as the administrative law
judge's evaluation of the medical evidence and claimant's testimony is rational,
we affirm his finding that claimant is not disabled and can perform her usual
work.[3]   Chong v. Todd Pacific Shipyards
Corp., 22 BRBS 242 (1989), aff'd mem. sub nom. Chong v. Director, OWCP,
909 F.2d 1488 (9th Cir. 1989).

     The administrative law judge also denied claimant reimbursement for her
medical expenses and future medical treatment finding that claimant had completely
recovered from her injury, and that she had failed to request authorization for her
treatment by Drs. Steger, Brown and Patterson.  The administrative law judge found
that claimant's testimony at the hearing as to whether she requested authorization
was vague and that claimant submitted no other evidence to establish that she had
requested authorization.  Claimant testified that she told employer over the phone
that she would need a doctor in California (where she moved in August 1984), and
that she "think[s]" she asked employer if she could see Dr. Compton.  Tr. at 46. 


     Claimant contends the medical treatment she sought and seeks is reasonable,
is related to her work injury, and is curative.[4] 
 Section 7 of the Act, 33 U.S.C. §907(a), states that "[t]he employer shall
furnish such medical, surgical, and other attendance or treatment . . .  for such
period as the nature of the injury or the process of recovery may require." 
Section 7 does not require that an injury be economically disabling in order for
a claimant to be entitled to medical expenses, but only that the injury be work-related. See Brooks v. Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., 26 BRBS 1, 7 (1993), aff'd sub
nom. Brooks v. Director, OWCP, 2 F.3d 64, 27 BRBS 100 (CRT)(4th Cir.
1993).  Section 7(d), 33 U.S.C. §907(d), requires that a claimant request
employer's authorization for the medical services performed by any physician,
including claimant's initial choice.  Claimant's failure to request authorization
for medical treatment bars her claim for reimbursement. See Ranks v. Bath Iron
Works Corp., 22 BRBS 301 (1989); Anderson v. Todd Shipyards Corp., 22
BRBS 20 (1989).

     Inasmuch as we affirm the administrative law judge's finding that claimant
completely recovered from her work-related injury on May 8, 1985, we hold that the
administrative law judge's denial of medical expenses for further treatment after
May 8, 1985, is proper.  Moreover, Drs. Kvidera and McCollum opined that claimant
did not require further treatment, and this constitutes substantial evidence in
support of the administrative law judge's finding.  We also hold that the
administrative law judge rationally determined that claimant's hearing testimony
as to whether she requested authorization for treatment from her physicians was
vague and that she failed to establish that she requested authorization. See
generally Cordero v. Triple A Machine Shop, 580 F.2d 1331, 8 BRBS 744 (9th Cir.
1978), cert. denied, 440 U.S. 911 (1979).  We therefore affirm the
administrative law judge's denial of medical expenses for treatment by Dr. Steger,
Brown and Patterson and for prescription drugs in 1988 and 1990, and his denial of
future medical treatment. See Ranks, 22 BRBS at 308.

     Accordingly, the administrative law judge's Decision and Order Denying
Benefits is affirmed.  

     SO ORDERED.    

     
                                                                        

                         BETTY JEAN HALL, Chief
                         Administrative Appeals Judge   



                                                                        

                         ROY P. SMITH
                         Administrative Appeals Judge                


                                                                        

                         REGINA C. McGRANERY
                         Administrative Appeals Judge

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Footnotes.


1)Employer paid benefits for temporary total disability from April 10, 1984 to April 30, 1984, from June 5, 1984 to December 27, 1985, and for permanent partial disability from December 28, 1985 to October 1, 1986. Back to Text
2)Claimant testified that after her unemployment compensation ran out, she did not look for work because her husband was making "good money" and that she stays home to care for family members. Tr. at 40-42. Back to Text
3)We therefore need not consider claimant's contention that permanent partial disability benefits should be based on the results of two labor market surveys compiled by employer. Back to Text
4)Specifically, claimant contends that the administrative law judge erred in denying her medical expenses for treatment by Dr. Steger in February 1988 for $95, by Dr. Brown in June 1988 for $400, by Dr. Patterson in February and June 1990 for $368.50, and for prescription medicine purchased under Dr. Patterson's authority in 1989 and 1990 for $586.66. Back to Text

NOTE: This is an UNPUBLISHED LHCA Document.

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