828 F.2d 20 (6th Cir. 1987), 86-6211, Sickman v. Secretary of Health & Human Services

Docket Nº:86-6211
Citation:828 F.2d 20
Party Name:Herbert F. SICKMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. SECRETARY OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:September 08, 1987
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

Page 20

828 F.2d 20 (6th Cir. 1987)

Herbert F. SICKMAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,



No. 86-6211

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

September 8, 1987

Editorial Note:

This opinion appears in the Federal reporter in a table titled "Table of Decisions Without Reported Opinions". (See FI CTA6 Rule 28 and FI CTA6 IOP 206 regarding use of unpublished opinions)



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Before MILBURN and RYAN, Circuit Judges, and GEORGE CLIFTON EDWARDS, Jr., Senior Circuit Judge.


Claimant Herbert F. Sickman appeals the summary judgment granted in favor of the Secretary on his claim for social security disability benefits. Claimant argues that the Administrative Law Judge's conclusion that he is capable of performing sedentary work is not supported by substantial evidence. He further contends that application of the grid was improper. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


Claimant filed an application for disability insurance benefits on May 13, 1983, alleging disability beginning on November 5, 1982. The injuries forming the basis for his claim occurred when he received a severe electrical shock while working on a construction site.

Claimant's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Claimant requested a de novo hearing which was held before an Administrative Law Judge ('ALJ') on March 14, 1984.

The evidence produced at the hearing established that claimant's injuries occurred during the course of his employment in Butte, Montana. He was working on top of a trailer, fourteen feet above the ground, when high tension wires containing 12,000 volts of electricity fell and hit him on the back. He fell off the trailer onto the ground, sustaining third-degree burns and a head injury. He suffers the residuals of an entrance wound on his right shoulder and exit wounds on his feet. As a result of the accident, claimant was hospitalized for forty days.

Dr. T. V. Stonger treated claimant for the injuries related to his accident. The discharge summary indicated that claimant's status was one month and a half postburn and that the first stage of reconstruction had been completed. Claimant's laboratory and X-ray values while in the hospital were normal. He was seen for right-eye blurriness which had improved. His muscle strength in the right leg had improved, although claimant did report a decrease in muscle strength in the right leg immediately after the burn. He was discharged on no medications, and Dr. Stonger indicated he would require dressing changes and further reconstructive surgery. Joint Appendix at 94.

In March 1983, claimant underwent excision and revision of his forehead scar. On March 25, 1983, claimant had reconstructive surgery on the entrance wound on his right shoulder. In June 1983, Dr. Stonger stated that at claimant's last examination his wounds were well healed, but that claimant had some problems with the exit wound on his left foot. Dr. Stonger further noted that therapy had assisted claimant in regaining some strength and a full range of motion in the joints, but that a loss of motor power persisted on the right side. Claimant is right-hand dominant.

On June 8, 1983, claimant was examined by Dr. David B. Clark, Professor of Neurology at the University of Kentucky. Claimant complained of weakness and swelling in his right leg. Claimant stated that, although he believed he was making a fair recovery, he slept poorly, was constantly depressed, and suffered headaches. He complained of blurred vision and poor hearing. Dr. Clark noted that claimant possessed a stooping and peculiar gait, almost like a limp. Deep tendon reflexes were essentially equal. Strength was essentially equal in all muscle groups. Dr. Clark described claimant as 'vaguely suicidal, but only to the point of feeling on occasion that life is not worth living.' Joint Appendix at 131. He concluded that '[t]he story is clear enough, it is difficult to demonstrate actual weakness consistent with the patient's complaints.' He recommended further testing to be carried out if the patient desired. Joint Appendix at 132.

In July 1983, claimant entered Duke's Memorial Hospital for further reconstructive surgery. Dr. Stonger, claimant's treating physician from Montana, performed the surgery. He concluded that claimant was 'doing well at this time and the wound is healing well.' Joint Appendix at 134. He noted that claimant suffered a decreased range of motion and strength in the right leg, but concluded that claimant's physical examination was otherwise essentially normal. Joint Appendix at 135.

Claimant was hospitalized at Albert B. Chandler Medical Center between August 2 and August 8, 1983. He complained of intermittent swelling in the right leg and muscle weakness, lower back pain, and blurred vision. The patient had an unremarkable course while multiple consultations were obtained. The EMG studies showed no evidence of lower motor neuron dysfunction. Nerve conduction velocity studies were normal. Eyeglasses and a hearing aid were recommended. A psychiatric evaluation indicated that claimant was not significantly depressed. Neuropsychiatric testing showed that claimant's cognitive faculties were average. The excavated areas on his shoulder and feet, although oozing, did not require urgent care. Claimant was instructed to continue seeing his...

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