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MCBRIDE v. SULLIVAN

January 24, 1991

JOANN McBRIDE, Plaintiff,
v.
LOUIS W. SULLIVAN, M.D., Secretary of Health and Human Services, Defendant


Ann Claire Williams, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAMS

ANN CLAIRE WILLIAMS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

 This matter is before the court on the defendant's and the plaintiff's cross motions for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, the Secretary of Health and Human Services' motion for summary judgment is granted, and plaintiff's request for supplemental security income benefits under the Social Security Act is denied.

 Background

 JoAnn McBride applied for disability benefits and supplemental security income benefits under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 423, 1381a. In May, 1986, her claims were denied by the Department of Health and Human Services. Plaintiff contested these findings, and received a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on September 23, 1986. On November 17, 1986, the ALJ made a finding of no disability; more specifically, the ALJ determined that Ms. McBride could return to her former job as a food server. The Appeals Council denied Ms. McBride's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Secretary.

 Plaintiff subsequently sought judicial review of the Secretary's final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). On July 27, 1988, this court remanded plaintiff's claim to the Secretary to determine whether plaintiff's pain and fatigue alone, or in combination with her other illnesses amounted to a disability under the Act. On June 6, 1989, the ALJ issued a recommended decision, again finding that McBride was not disabled. This became the Secretary's final decision when it was adopted by the Appeals Council. Both parties now seek summary judgment on the issue of whether plaintiff is entitled to disability benefits and supplemental security income benefits under the Act. For the reasons explained below, the defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted.

 Background

 At the time of the initial hearing before the ALJ, plaintiff was a 41 year old woman living in Chicago, Illinois. She completed the eighth grade in school, and has no vocational training. (C.T. 27). McBride began working at age fourteen, and continued to work on a variety of jobs, until May 21, 1985. Most recently, McBride has worked as a food server at Plantation Bakeries and Outboard Marine Corporation.

 Prior to 1985, plaintiff had problems with chest pains and seizures, but continued to work despite these problems. The seizures, chest pains, and related symptoms became worse over a period of three years, leading up to the incident in May, 1985, when plaintiff was hospitalized. McBride was hospitalized from May 28, 1985, through June 1, 1985 (C.T. 118-131); she entered the hospital again from May 26, 1986, through May 30, 1986 (C.T. 206-213). Plaintiff stopped work in May, 1985; she claims that because of her medical impairments and the side effects of her medical treatment, she is unable to work.

 At the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge, Ms. McBride testified that she experiences severe chest pains every day, as well as painful headaches. These pains vary in intensity and length; some last only a few seconds, while others last from five to twenty minutes. McBride also experiences other pains throughout her body. McBride also complained of extreme weakness and fatigue. McBride explained that she is generally too weak to leave her home during the day, and cannot walk more than a block or two without becoming exhausted. Both McBride's pain and weakness are aggravated when she exerts herself.

 A letter, written by Dr. William Relyea, Ms. McBride's treating physician, supports her claim for disability benefits. Dr. Relyea notes that McBride is suffering from mitral valve prolapse, seizures, hypoglycemia, supraventricular tachycardia, degenerative arthritis, and fibroid tumors in her uterus. Dr. Relyea indicated that McBride was taking medication for several of her ailments. Nitroglycerin relieves some of McBride's chest pain, and dilantin controls her seizures. Plaintiff's hypoglycemia is controlled by a special diet. While stating his belief that McBride may qualify for benefits under the Social Security Act because of an inability to do stressful work, or work involving unusual physical activity, Dr. Relyea unfortunately did not even mention the severe pain and fatigue plaintiff also claims she is suffering from.

 After filing her claim for disability benefits, McBride was tested and examined by physicians at the Illinois Disability Determination Service. Her examining physician, Dr. Kian Sie, found no evidence that plaintiff was suffering from a variety of serious heart ailments, like mitral valve click, cardiac arrhythmias, or tachycardia. An exercise tread mill test revealed that plaintiff did not have chest pain at 10 METS, but that she did experience an episode of supraventricular tachycardia. Further, Dr. Sie did not believe that plaintiff's complaints of pain were typical of angina pectoris. Dr. Sie's report suggested that McBride's arthritis was either non-existent, or not very severe. In his examination of McBride Dr. Sie found no swelling, or deformity of her joints. Further, all of McBride's joints had a full range of motion.

 The designated reviewing physician, Dr. E.G. Wood, found that the severity of plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal that of any impairment ...


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