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Woody v. Secretary of Health and Human Services

argued: May 6, 1988.

WALTER WOODY, APPELLANT
v.
SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES



On Appeal From the United States District Court For the District of New Jersey -- Camden, Civil Action No. 83-0644.

Higginbotham, Stapleton, and Greenberg, Circuit Judges.

Author: Stapleton

Opinion OF THE COURT

STAPLETON, Circuit Judge.

This appeal from a district court order affirming the denial of Social Security disability benefits comes to us after more than eight years of administrative and district court proceedings. We will reverse and direct that benefits be paid.

I.

The claimant, Walter Woody, is a married 40-year old male with three children and has a full scale IQ of 77. Between his graduation from high school and 1979, when he last worked regularly, Woody was steadily employed for 14 years. During the last nine of these years, he worked as a maintenance mechanic for CBS Records. Woody claims that in April, 1979, he developed a disability that has prevented him from working.

Woody has testified that the symptoms of his disability include pain "all over his body," especially in his legs, back, ribs, and right arm. He also claims to have difficulty walking, standing, or sitting for an extended period of time. In addition, he claims that he has difficulty bending, lifting, and climbing.

As of 1981, Woody had had 12 hospitalizations resulting from these symptoms and had been examined by numerous doctors. Other hospitalizations and examinations have followed, but no doctor has been able to diagnose definitively a physical cause of Woody's symptoms. The failure of Woody's doctors to find either a cause of or a cure for Woody's perceived physical problems has resulted In psychological difficulties for Woody. He is profoundly depressed and obsessed with his perceived illness and his inability to provide for himself and his family. He has testified that this depression has severely restricted his daily activities. Woody stays home in bed most of the time and does not drive. He has difficulty sleeping, shaving, bathing, and dressing himself. He feels isolated from his wife and children and does not participate in family social events or chores. Woody's testimony in this regard has been corroborated by the testimony of his wife and neighbors. A Social Security interviewer has noted that Woody "was completely frustrated because of his inability to get around and yet the doctors can't seem to find out what's wrong. He has a family to support and this upsets him also because the situation is getting desperate." 153a.

Woody underwent two psychiatric evaluations in 1981. Dr. N.J. George filed a report that diagnosed Woody as suffering from "reactive depression." Dr. George's report includes the following observations and conclusions:

[Woody] stays home all the time. He is either on the bed or on the couch most of the time. He needs assistance to take a shower, dress etc. He is unable to shave, standing up. He does not go out of the house because of his difficulty in walking. He is unable to drive a car. . . .

Patient is depressed because of severe pain and his inability to function normally. He has dif[f]use neurological signs. He is very much disgusted with himself and appears to have given up as he has not had any relief even after three years of hospitalizations and evaluations. It appears from the history his condition is progressing. I would consider him totally and permanently disabled because he is even unable to take care of his basic needs like shaving dressing, etc.

Id. at 416-17.

Dr. James Nelson also concluded that Woody was totally disabled. Dr. Nelson included anxiety and depression among Woody's ...


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