AINSWORTH, Circuit Judge:
This is that somewhat unusual case in which after a careful scrutiny of the record we cannot find substantial evidence to support the decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, despite the stringent requirements of proof of disability under the amended Social Security Act and the narrowly circumscribed function of the Court in reviewing decisions of the Secretary. The Secretary determined that Dock Williams, appellant, was not entitled to a period of disability or disability insurance benefits under the Act. See Sections 216(i), 223 of the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423, as amended (1969). The District Court, by summary judgment, upheld the Secretary's findings, and claimant appeals therefrom.
Claimant, a 55-year-old male, filed an application for a period of disability and for disability insurance benefits on July 7, 1967, alleging the onset date as October 30, 1961. He listed his impairments as high blood pressure, ulcers of the stomach, brain tumor, blackouts, numbness of hands, arms and legs extending into his body, and sleepless nights. This was the third of such applications, the two prior applications having been filed in February 1962 and September 1965.
Appellant was born in 1915 and has the equivalent of a fourth-grade education. He lives with his wife, mother and adopted son, with whom he shares a monthly income of $177.58, including Veterans Administration disability benefits and welfare payments. Claimant served approximately a year in the Army in 1942 and was honorably discharged therefrom. At various times during his life he has worked as a carpenter's helper, construction laborer, handyman, nursery worker, pastry cook, pie baker, plumber's helper, service station attendant, yardman, and washing machine tumbler or operator. Claimant's alleged disability started on October 30, 1961, when he suffered a vomiting and fainting attack while digging a ditch at Eglin Air Force Base. He was taken to a hospital at Crestview, Florida, and attended by Dr. M. G. Carroll, whose initial diagnosis was respiratory infection, questionable heart disease and nervousness. Since that time he has been intermittently hospitalized on numerous occasions at Veterans Administration hospitals. After the October 1961 incident, claimant returned to work as plumber's helper but allegedly was unable to continue because the work was too strenuous. Since that time he has done a little yard work, for which he received $7 or $8 a month, and has worked at a service station pumping gasoline for which he had earned $48 when his job was terminated. He has sought reemployment there, at other filling stations, and with his former employer at a trucking company. At the last hearing claimant testified that he can drive and does drive as far as three blocks to the grocery but seldom farther. Highway driving numbs his legs and arms, brings on spells and blackouts, and even driving to the grocery sometimes necessitates pulling off the road. He spends most of his time sitting around the house or visiting with neighbors immediately across the street or nearby; he cannot walk very much and no longer does housework.
In disagreeing with the Secretary's finding that claimant has failed in his burden of proof, we are cognizant of the fact that the burden is indeed a heavy one under the Act. See Brown v. Finch, 5 Cir. 1970, 429 F.2d 80, 83. Disabling impairments must be of lengthy and indefinite duration.
An analysis of the medical evidence shows that claimant has shouldered his burden of proof. Four doctors expressed opinions of claimant's disability in varying degrees, all of whom attributed disability to hypertension or heart disease, or both.
Appellee stresses that claimant has been described consistently as a person in excellent physical condition. A study of the record shows that claimant undoubtedly presents the outward appearance of a healthy, well-developed and well-nourished individual.
The Supreme Court and this Court have construed "substantial evidence" to be
Cohen v. Perales, 5 Cir., 1969, 412 F.2d 44, 53.
Applying these principles to the instant case — and with due deference to the expertise of the Secretary and hearing examiner who has conducted two hearings in this matter — we find that the record is without substantial evidence to support the decision of the Secretary. We remand this case to the District Court so that it may issue an appropriate order directing the Secretary to grant appellant the disability benefits to which he is entitled, in accordance with this opinion.
Reversed and remanded.
Dr. F. T. Daly, a medical consultant for the Social Security Administration, reported on March 7, 1968: "A review of the record reveals that the applicant suffers from a significant impairment and may well be disabled at the present time * * *. He has severe paroxysmal hypertension, as revealed by readings of 180/100, 174/130 and 194/126 * * *. From the evidence available, we have to conclude that he has definite heart disease."
Dr. R. C. Palmer, specialist in Internal Medicine, reported on May 14, 1962, "It is my impression that this patient is partially disabled on the basis of hypertensive vascular disease and probable mild anginal failure."
Dr. H. C. White (General Medicine) reported on May 23, 1969: "In my opinion, patient at this time is unable to work for the following reasons: (1) Physical condition as previously listed, primarily #1 [Hypertensive and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular heart disease with myocardial ischemia] and #3 [Peripheral vascular disease, organic, of lower extremities due to arteriosclerosis] markedly limits any physical activity. (2) Patient has no educational background to permit him working in any other capacity than plumber or laborer, both of which require strenuous activity. I have seen Mr. Williams on only two occasions. On both of these occasions he has demonstrated a very definite hypertension."
Dr. H. T. Dukes, neurosurgeon, reported on November 14, 1967: "I cannot find any clear-cut evidence on any specific abnormality on my examination of today. I would feel that on the basis of his previous neurological abnormality carried to the extent of pneumoencephalograms, his essentially normal neurological examination today, and his normal electroencephalogram today that no further neurological study is indicated at the present time. I find no evidence of neurological abnormality which would warrant this man's being incapable of employment * * *." Dr. P. B. Phillips, psychiatrist-neurologist, found no disabling mental impairment. However, he reported on April 12, 1963, that it was his impression that claimant was "probably too hypertensive for hard work and too poorly educated for sedentary types of work" although "not psychiatrically disabled in the sense of being either psychotic or seriously handicapped by neurosis."
Dr. M. C. Wilhoit, psychiatrist-neurologist, submitted an electro-encephalogram report on November 13, 1967. It was his impression that "Cerebral electro activity [was] within normal limits."