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HOWERTON v. RICHARDSON

March 12, 1974

WILLIAM W. HOWERTON
v.
ELLIOTT RICHARDSON, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare


Higginbotham, J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: HIGGINBOTHAM

The plaintiff, William W. Howerton, here seeks review of the final decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, denying his claim for disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act. *fn1" The plaintiff alleges he is unable to work due to a condition known as pansinusitis. Upon consideration of the testimonial and medical evidence and after careful review of the record as a whole I have concluded that the decision of the Secretary is supported by substantial evidence, and that therefore the defendant's motion for summary judgment must be GRANTED and the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment DENIED.

 I.

 From 1963 until August 1970, along with his other business endeavors the plaintiff worked as a research chemist and supervisor of chemical research projects in the Naval Air Development Center at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In 1964, Mr. Howerton while employed at the Naval Air Development Center began to develop headaches. Over a period of time these pains grew more severe and he began to complain of pains in his frontal sinuses. He reported these symptoms to his family physician, Dr. Joseph McCadden, a general practitioner.

 On November 14, 1967, Dr. McCadden disclosed that he had treated the plaintiff on various occasions since 1964 for sinusitis and that he suffered from chronic infections and pain in his sinuses with resultant complications of headaches and arthritis of the neck which appeared to be worsening. Plaintiff had also experienced bleeding of the mucous membrane. Dr. McCadden believed that the plaintiff's condition had been caused primarily by prolonged exposure to low concentrations of methylene chloride and possibly other vapors in his work environment. He appeared to have developed a sensitivity to these irritants which made him sensitive to drafts causing susceptibility to infection.

 Because of the persistence of his condition, plaintiff was advised by Dr. McCadden to consult other physicians. Dr. Lawrence J. McStravog, a specialist in Otolaryngology, examined the plaintiff in the Fall of 1969. An X-ray examination was given by Dr. Thomas C. Jacob, a specialist in Radiology, who diagnosed plaintiff's condition as pansinusitis. He was also examined by Dr. Heinrich Brieger, a retired physician, who concurred in the opinion of Dr. Jacob.

 In August 1970, the plaintiff was placed on disability from the Navy Department because the deterioration of his sinus condition prevented the further performance of his duties as a polymer research chemist. This position required prolonged exposure in the laboratory to chemical fumes to which plaintiff had developed an adverse physical sensitivity in his sinus passages. Due to this disability, plaintiff is receiving workmen's compensation from the United States Government in the amount of $560.00 every two weeks.

 On December 8, 1970, plaintiff applied to the Social Security Administration of The Department of Health, Education and Welfare for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Section 223 of the Social Security Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. ยง 423. Plaintiff represented in his application that he suffered from a medical impairment diagnosed as pansinusitis and that he had become unable to work because of this disability on August 14, 1970.

 The Administration's Division of Initial Claims for the Bureau of Disability Insurance determined that plaintiff did not meet the disability requirements of the Act and notified plaintiff on September 28, 1971, of its determination. Plaintiff filed a request for reconsideration but the Division of Reconsideration upheld the agency's initial decision after an independent re-evaluation of plaintiff's claim.

 On March 16, 1972, plaintiff filed a hearing request with the agency's Bureau of Hearings and Appeals, stating his disagreement with the determination made on his claim; he gave as his reason for such disagreement the existence of additional medical evidence in his case. Plaintiff submitted this evidence and a hearing was held on June 15, 1972. Testimony was taken and all medical reports were admitted into evidence without objection.

 The hearing examiner determined that on the basis of the evidence plaintiff was ". . . not entitled to a period of disability under Section 216(i) or to disability insurance benefits under Section 223 of the Social Security Act, as amended." (Tr. 17). The Bureau's Appeals Council upheld the hearing examiner's decision which then became the final decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare on plaintiff's claim.

 Plaintiff timely filed his complaint with this Court seeking review of the final decision of the Secretary. *fn2" The Secretary filed his ...


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