exertional impairment is thus supported by substantial evidence.
We therefore need only concern ourselves with whether plaintiff, prior to September 30, 1977, was suffering from a severe nonexertional impairment (paranoid schizophrenia) which significantly affected his ability to perform basic work related functions.
Although plaintiff was not diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia until January 1978, the nature of the illness is such that elements of it are usually present throughout most of one's life. Plaintiff has a long history of disciplinary problems and erratic behavior. This does not necessarily mean, however, that since symptoms of plaintiff's impairment were present prior to the expiration of his eligibility for benefits, plaintiff is entitled to disability benefits. Plaintiff must show that his condition was that of a severe impairment.
A severe impairment is an impairment which significantly limits one's ability to perform basic work related functions. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1521(a).
Basic work related functions, as set forth under 20 C.F.R. § 404.1521(b), include the ability to use one's arms, legs, hands and fingers as well as the ability to understand and carry out simple instructions, respond to supervision and co-workers and use of judgment.
As previously noted there are no physical limitations which would prevent plaintiff from being gainfully employed. In reviewing the evidence of record we further conclude that plaintiff did not suffer from any nonexertional impairment that would have significantly limited his ability to perform basic work related activities prior to September 30, 1977.
Two factors support such a finding. First, plaintiff originally claimed he became disabled in December of 1979. After learning that this date was past his period of eligibility, plaintiff amended his application to allege an onset date of March 20, 1976. The fact that plaintiff himself did not originally believe he was disabled until December 1979 is significant. The Secretary, in assessing this change of dates, could reasonably conclude that plaintiff did so merely to avoid a denial of his claim and that the onset of plaintiff's disability was indeed somewhere closer to December 1979. Similarly significant is the belief of plaintiff's mother that plaintiff's disability began about one month prior to his January 1978 commitment to WPIC (R. 114). Although this was not the same date as originally alleged by the plaintiff, it nevertheless was still outside the period of plaintiff's eligibility for benefits.
The second, and most important factor which supports the conclusion that plaintiff did not suffer from a severe nonexertional impairment prior to September 30, 1977, are the reports of plaintiff's examining physicians and psychiatrists.
While at the Stauton Clinic in June of 1977 it was reported that plaintiff was alert, pleasant and well oriented and while a poor candidate for rehabilitative training, it was suggested that placement be attempted in an unskilled endeavor.
The Secretary could therefore reasonably conclude that the plaintiff did not suffer from a severe impairment which would limit his ability to perform basic work related activities because those at the clinic believed the plaintiff was capable of returning to the work force, albeit in an unskilled position.
Similarly, when examined for his neck injury in September of 1977, no report of irrational or paranoid behavior was reported. To the contrary, the examining physician noted that the plaintiff was alert and well oriented (R. 104), factors directly related to plaintiff's ability to function in a work setting.
What little other evidence that exists pertaining to the relevant time period comes from statements made by the plaintiff and his mother. The reliability of this information is questionable, however, for as noted by the clinician at WPIC "due to conflicting disorganized stories [from plaintiff and his mother] a firm consistent history is difficult to obtain." (R. 114).
We therefore conclude, based on the most reliable evidence available, that the decision of the Secretary that the plaintiff did not suffer from a severe impairment prior to September 30, 1977, is supported by substantial evidence.
An order follows.
AND NOW, April 21, 1986, the defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and the decision of the Secretary affirmed.
The plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is, accordingly, denied.
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