The opinion of the court was delivered by: Denlow, United States Magistrate Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Gale Bednar ("Bednar" or "Claimant") brings this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner")
denying Bednar's claim for disability insurance benefits under
the Social Security Act ("Act"). The Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") found that Bednar was not disabled as defined in the Act.
The Appeals Council denied Bednar's request for review.
This matter comes before the Court on cross-motions for summary
judgment. The issue to be decided is whether substantial evidence
in the record supports the ALJ's finding that Bednar is not
disabled under the Act. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court denies Bednar's motion for summary judgment, grants the
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment, and affirms the ALJ's
Gale Bednar, a 38 year old woman, first applied for disability
insurance benefits on August 16, 1996, alleging a disability
since February 23, 1996. This application was denied on December
13, 1996, and Bednar filed for reconsideration. The application
was denied upon reconsideration on March 10, 1997. (R. 99).
Bednar then requested a hearing with an ALJ. A hearing before ALJ
Robert T. Karmgard was held on March 31, 1998, during which the
Claimant and Meyer Klein, a vocational expert, testified. (R.
22-87). The ALJ rendered a decision against the Claimant on May
7, 1998. (R. 9). Bednar's request for review of the ALJ's
decision was denied by the Appeals Council on June 4, 1999,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
1. Gale Bednar's Testimony
The second incident occurred on October 15, 1995, when she
responded to a call about a women lying in the street. (R. 31).
When Bednar arrived at the scene a fight was in progress and
Bednar intervened. During the fight, Bednar was kicked and
clubbed, resulting in injuries to her pelvis, left knee, and
shoulder. (R. 31-32). She wears a brace on her left knee due to
the injury. (R. 37).
Bednar returned to light patrol duties in November, 1995, and
continued in that capacity until February 23, 1996. (R. 38). On
February 23, 1996, Bednar discontinued her police duties because
the Evanston Police Department determined that she could no
longer perform even light patrol duties. (R. 37). Bednar was
pregnant at this time. (R. 37). Bednar gave birth to her daughter
on October 13, 1996. (R. 14).
Bednar claims to suffer pain in her neck, ears, jaw, back, and
legs. (R. 49). She uses a TENS unit to relieve pain in her jaw,
back, and sciatic nerves on both sides of her buttocks. (R. 49).
She claims the pain in her jaw, back and sciatic nerves is
constant with flair ups. (R. 49-50). She also complains of
shoulder and cervical pain. (R. 50). Bednar also complains of
severe pain in her groin area. (R. 51). Finally, Bednar claims to
have difficulty differentiating between when she will pass gas
and when she will pass a stool. (R. 53).
As a result, Bednar claims: she cannot fully extend her arms
without a lot of pain (R. 51); she cannot wear anything that will
touch her vagina or her lower pelvic area (R. 51); she becomes
very tired and has to lay down frequently (R. 52); her sleep is
interrupted every three hours by pain (R. 52-53); she has to take
a Jacuzzi or a hot shower to soothe the pain (R. 53); her husband
had to install a special toilet to accommodate her (R. 53); she
has to roll out of bed because her back gets so stiff from laying
in bed that she cannot sit up (R. 53-54); her husband has to help
her get dressed (R. 54); she can only do very limited housework,
such as pushing a dust mop over the hardwood floors, doing the
dishes in spurts, and retrieving the mail (R. 56); she cannot
make lunch for her daughter because it is too tiring (R. 56); she
cannot carry groceries (R. 60); she can drive a car only if there
is an emergency or her daughter has to go to the doctor (R. 62);
she can only stand up for a half an hour at a time and for a
total of two hours a day (R. 62); she cannot walk very far
because of her sciatic pain (R. 62); and finally, the heaviest
thing she can lift is a half gallon of milk unless it is her
daughter, who weighs 24 pounds (R. 62).
2. Meyer Klein's Testimony
Meyer Klein, a vocational expert ("VE"), testified at the
hearing. The VE classified Bednar's past work as a police officer
as medium, semi-skilled. (R. 71). He classified Bednar's past
work experiences as a home health care manager and as a car
salesperson as light, semi-skilled. (R. 71). Her past work as an
airline baggage manger was classified as heavy, semi-skilled. (R.
71). Her former work as a law firm receptionist was classified as
sedentary, semi-skilled. (R. 71). Finally, Bednar's past work as
a phlebotomist was classified as light. (R. 76).
The VE determined that such an individual would not be able to
perform any of the work that Bednar previously had performed.
However, the VE opined that such an individual could perform
light and sedentary work as a cashier (with 5,500 jobs in the
region), as an office clerk (12,500), as an assembler (5,200),
and as a Phlebotomist (1,500).
1. Dr. Neil Allen, Treating Physician
Dr. Neil Allen, Bednar's treating physician, saw Bednar on
August 23, 1994. Dr. Allen's notes reflect that Bednar suffered
from neck pain and that her mouth would open only 19mm. (R. 182).
Dr. Allen's impression at this time was TMJ Dysfunction, which
caused Bednar to suffer headaches. (R. 182). Dr. Allen saw Bednar
on December 20, 1994. At this meeting, Bednar complained of pain
in her back, neck, and jaw. Dr. Allen injected some of Bednar's
muscles with pain relieving steroids and referred her to physical
therapy for her jaw and shoulder. (R. 181)
Dr. Allen saw Bednar again on October 19, 1995, four days after
the on-duty fight. Dr. Allen noted Bednar had a knee immobilizer
on her left knee. Dr. Allen's notes reflect Bednar had tenderness
in her knee, pubic trauma, and small vaginal bleeding. X-rays of
the pubic bone and the left knee were negative. Dr. Allen
referred Bednar to Dr. Isaacs for the vaginal bleeding. (R. 180).
On March 1, 1996, Dr. Allen saw Bednar again. At this time, Dr.
Allen injected six multiple trigger points in Bednar's neck and
back. He noticed left knee pain on motion but the knee was not
unstable. Dr. Allen noted Bednar's mouth opened 5.2cm and that
she experienced a spasm in her left lower jaw. (R. 181).
Dr. Allen once again saw Bednar on April 11, 1996. He noted
Bednar was able to open her mouth three-quarters of an inch with
spasm in the right jaw and left temporal region. At this time,
Bednar had pain in the back and both shoulders. Bednar's straight
leg raising was sixty-degrees with mild back spasm. She had