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CROUCH v. SECRETARY OF HEALTH

July 19, 1974

James H. CROUCH, Plaintiff,
v.
SECRETARY OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE, Defendant


Tyler, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: TYLER

TYLER, District Judge.

Plaintiff seeks review, pursuant to § 205(g) of the Social Security Act, as amended, ("the Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of a decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare ("the Secretary"), denying his application to establish a period of disability and for disability insurance benefits for a period of time from February, 1966 through September 30, 1971. *fn1"

 PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

 Two prior applications were filed before the Secretary on behalf of plaintiff alleging virtually the same reasons purporting to entitle him to disability benefits. The first such application was filed on November 2, 1966 by the Superintendent of Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane ("Matteawan"). This application was denied through the initial level on December 19, 1966. No further review was sought by the plaintiff or his representative.

 The second application was filed on September 8, 1967. It was denied initially on October 25, 1967, on reconsideration May 10, 1968 and by a hearing examiner on November 27, 1968. *fn2" Judicial review was not sought in connection with this application in which plaintiff was represented by the Superintendent of Matteawan.

 PRESENT PROCEEDINGS

 Plaintiff's present application for disability insurance benefits was filed before the Secretary on June 29, 1970. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing which was held on November 25, 1972. Following the hearing, the administrative law judge found on January 30, 1973, that plaintiff was not under a disability. The decision of the administrative law judge became the final decision of the Secretary when it was approved by the Appeals Council on April 20, 1973.

 Defendant moves for judgment on the pleadings affirming the decision of the Secretary. Defendant contends that the findings of fact and conclusions are supported by substantial evidence and are therefore conclusive.

 BACKGROUND FACTS

 Plaintiff is 45 years old, received ten years of schooling, was awarded a high school equivalency diploma and subsequently attended college for approximately one year. He served in the United States Army for approximately 13 years and worked as an equipment repairman for 7 years. He was confined in a mental institution from June, 1966 through September, 1969. He alleges disability due to mental illness from February, 1966 to September 30, 1971.

 The medical evidence of record may be summarized as follows: Plaintiff was admitted to Bellevue Hospital on April 1, 1966, for examination after being arrested and charged with first degree murder of his wife. In the hospital's view, he was suffering from a mental disorder diagnosed as psychosis, paranoid type, and was "in such a state of insanity as to be incapable of understanding the charge, indictment, proceedings, or of making his defense." *fn3" He was designated to be a suitable candidate for commitment to a mental hospital, and on August 22, 1966, he entered Matteawan, where his illness was again described as a paranoid condition.

 The hospital, when queried by the New York State Agency on February 6, 1968, reported that the patient was "relatively comfortable on medication," *fn4" and that he remained in a paranoid state. The reporting doctor characterized the condition as "probably having existed for many years before the murder. However, it may tend to be chronic and at times worsen."

 In reply to a second inquiry made on April 23, 1968, by the New York State Agency, the hospital reported that the patient was still considered "not well enough to stand trial." The report continued:

 
"He is also described as withdrawn and preoccupied at times. However, he is cooperative at other times, but when attempts at psychotherapy are made he can become hostile, especially when details about his wife are spoken of. Nevertheless he carries out an assignment in the clothing room. He works the usual number of hours that other patients work. There is a moderate amount of responsibility required at this job. The claimant ordinarily does not require medication. However, when he does become belligerent, small doses of medication are employed. . . . The impairment is significant. The longstanding paranoid personality is, of ...

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