The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morton Denlow, United States Magistrate Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Linda Hert ("Claimant" or "Hert") seeks judicial review of
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, Jo Anne
Barnhart ("Commissioner"), denying Hert's application for Disability
Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under
the Social Security Act, Titles II and XVI, 42 U.S.C. § 416, 423,
1381a. Hert claims the Commissioner's decision should be reversed because
the Administrative Law Judge, John Mondi ("ALJ"), did not properly
analyze the findings of the consulting psychologist, his determination of
Hert's credibility was improper, and he failed to properly consider
Hert's limitations on standing. Both parties now move for summary
judgment. For the reasons stated herein, this Court affirms the
Commissioner's decision, denies Hert's motion for summary judgment, and
grants the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment.
A. Hert's Hearing Testimony
On May 22, 2001, Hert testified before the ALJ at a Social Security
Administration ("SSA") Hearing. R. 37-78. At the time of the hearing,
Hert was 34 years old and lived with her parents and 14-year-old
daughter. R. 38, 51. She graduated from high school and completed one
year of vocational college. R. 38. Hert last worked for two full months,
answering phones for Naperville Jeep, R. 40. She was terminated on
November 4, 1999, due to a reorganization and received unemployment
compensation. R. 40-41. Although she looked for part-time employment as a
receptionist, she was unemployed at the time of the hearing. R. 39, 41.
Her past employment experience included work as a receptionist,
telemarketer, insurance verifier and mail room clerk. R. 38, 79.
Hert testified that she has been unable to work since November 4,
1999, because of pain in her back, right shoulder, neck, legs and
numbness in her toes. R. 46. Hert first injured her back while working as
a mail room clerk for Wilton Industries. R. 45. Although some heavy
lifting was required at that job, she worked full-time from January 1992
through January 1996. R. 45, 122. Hert had her first back surgery in June
1993. R. 45. Because pain persisted after work hardening and physical
therapy, Hert changed doctors and had a diskogram which revealed further
back trouble. R. 45.
In July 1994, Hert had a metal cage surgically placed in her lower
back. R. 45. During the procedure Hert tore her right rotator cuff. R.
45. The shoulder surgery and physical therapy delayed the back physical
therapy, and her sciatica continued to worsen. R. 46,
Hert left Wilton and received workers compensation. R. 43. In September
1996, Hert began to work at Colar Dodge but was let go two months later.
R. 43. Auto Auction in Bolingbrook temporarily hired her to replace an
employee on maternity leave in December 1996. R. 43. That job required
standing, sitting and walking up and down stairs. R. 43. She was let go
in July 1997. R. 43. Hert received six months of unemployment. R. 43.
Subsequent to the expiration of the unemployment, Hert worked as a
telemarketer for Colorado Prime and a verification clerk for Americall.
R. 41, 42, 44. She worked at Americall for fourteen months but found it
increasingly difficult to sit for extended hours and eventually left to
work at Naperville Jeep in September 1999. R. 42.
After two months, Hert
was let go due to internal reorganization. R. 42.
Claimant injured her back while lifting mail at work in 1993. R. 187.
She underwent conservative treatment and after diagnostic testing in 1993
revealed a herniated disc, Claimant underwent a decompressive lumbar
microdiskectomy. R. 188, 191-93, 229-30, 255, 300. She improved
significantly post-operatively, but later developed pain when she
returned to work and lifted heavy boxes. R. 262. Subsequent diagnostic
testing revealed disc bulging at L3 . . . L4, but Dr. George E.
DePhillips felt the disc bulge was not causing pain and reported surgery
was not indicated. R. 267, 303-04. Dr. DePhillips released Claimant to
return to work on regular duty as of January 1994. R. 307.
In May 1994, Claimant began seeing Dr. Scott D. Hodges, Chief of Spine
Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center. His physical examination of
Claimant was essentially normal. R. 528-30. CLaimant reported chronic
disabling back pain since she returned to full duty work, lifting 40-50
pounds on a repetitive basis. R. 528. Despite Dr. Hodges' conclusion
Claimant could continue working at her present job without surgery, he
reported that she was likely to "spiral downward if her problem was not
addressed appropriately." R. 531.
Claimant elected to undergo a second surgery in July 1994, followed by
physical therapy and work hardening. R. 398, 408-58, 524. She underwent an
anterior lumbar diskectomy at L4-L5, and a spiral fusion at L4-L5. R.
312-14. Two weeks later, Claimant was "doing really quite well." R. 516.
In January 1995, Claimant underwent right shoulder arthroscopy with
repair of the rotator cuff which was injured during the spinal fusion
surgery. R. 469-72.
In June 1995, Claimant underwent a functional capacity assessment in
which she demonstrated the ability to lift 20 pounds occasionally at all
three levels of lifting. R. 544. Claimant was able to sit for eight hours
with no apparent limitations, stand for three to four hours and for 30
minutes at one time, and walk for seven hours. R. 544, 546-47. Claimant
was able to occasionally bend and stoop. R. 546. Dr. Lorenz released
Claimant to work with a permanent 20 pound lifting restriction. R. 555.
He otherwise regarded her capabilities as consistent with the June 1995
functional capacity assessment. R. 553-54.
In July 1997, Claimant was seen for intermittent pain in her right
leg. R. 561. She was diagnosed with an acute lumbosacral sprain, with
"some worsening radiculopathy, now resolving." Id. Claimant returned to