Plaintiff here appeals the Secretary's denial of Jonathon Steadman's application for Supplemental Security Income. 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Darcie Steadman, Jonathon's mother, alleges that Jonathon became disabled in 1980 because of epilepsy. The Secretary acknowledges that a neurological impairment exists, but argues that this condition is not serious enough to be considered disabling. We now address the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment.
Jonathon Steadman is eight years old. He was first examined by physicians in December 1982 after his mother and kindergarten teacher noticed that he was having "staring spells" and that his performance in school was declining. At a parent-teacher conference in 1982, Mrs. Steadman was informed that Jonathon usually required instructions to be repeated while other children had already begun their tasks. When the teacher called his attention to his deficiencies, he became very nervous. Mrs. Steadman received notes from the teacher stating that he was not participating in class; that he does a lot of daydreaming; and that he had difficulty completing assignments, taking two or three days to finish work that should be done in twenty minutes. Record at 108-109. The following year Jonathon's first grade teacher reported that he "seemed to be living in a world of his own and refuses to even try to learn such little tasks as tying a shoe lace or keeping himself neat." Record at 106. He suffered enuresis for the first time in school and at home. Record at 98. Otherwise he seems very bright, in kindergarten scoring in the top 3% of an intelligence test given to five and six year olds. Record at 107.
Jonathon's staring spells have been described in the record. They last for 30-60 seconds and are usually characterized by a blank stare and a loss of awareness. Occasionally, his eyes roll back or his head drops and his mouth opens. Record at 100. In one instance he fell to the floor in school without remembering what happened. Record at 110. He has suffered physical injury and come dangerously close to injury, a condition his mother claims is attributable to the temporary losses of awareness. He has been struck in the head and face with thrown baseballs during routine play. He made no defensive reaction before being struck in the face by another child wielding a gas can. He put his hand through the window of a closing storm door. He once had to be pulled from the middle of a street after stopping to stare at a traffic light, ignoring his brother's warnings. Record at 119-20.
While we must admit that most of these incidents by themselves seem typical of young boys, we have no doubt that, considered in combination and with the medical evidence, Jonathon suffers from a serious impairment. Jonathon was examined three times at a pediatric clinic between December of 1982 and February of 1983, and four times in a neurology clinic from March 1983 to November 1983. He has been diagnosed by Dr. K. Dudenhoffer as having a complex absence seizure disorder, also referred to as petit mal seizures. Record at 96. He has had an abnormal electroencephalograph, reported by Dr. M. Duncombe in March 1983. Jonathon is taking Zarotin and Depakene, anti-convulsants, to control his condition. This course has been successful in lessening the frequency of his spells, but he still suffers three spells a day. Record at 24 and 104. In addition, these drugs, the dosages of which have been increased over time, have made him "hyper". Record at 96-105.
Our task on review is to determine whether there is substantial evidence on record to support the Secretary's decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842, 91 S. Ct. 1420 (1971). Because we are reviewing a decision involving a minor, we must refer to the Secretary's regulations on this subject. As provided in 20 C.F.R. § 416.923, a person under age 18 will be found disabled if he or she:
(a) is not engaging in any substantial gainful activity;
(b) Has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which is as severe as any impairment which would be considered disabling to a person over age 18.