The opinion of the court was delivered by: REBECCA PALLMEYER, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff James Davis claims he is disabled by a condition that
results in nocturnal seizures at least three times per week. He filed
this action, seeking to reverse and either set aside or remand for a new
hearing the Social Security Administration's ("SSA") final administrative
decision denying his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB")
under Title II and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI
of the Social Security Act.*fn1 Plaintiff moves for summary judgment.
For the reasons stated in this opinion, Plaintiff's motion is granted and
the court remands this matter to the SSA for further proceedings.
On April 6, 2000, Plaintiff filed an application with the SSA for Title
II DIB and Title XVI SSI benefits, alleging that he has been disabled and
unable to work since February 6, 2000 due to his nocturnal seizures.
(Record ("R.") 93.) The SSA denied Plaintiff's claim initially and on
reconsideration on the ground that, as Plaintiff had the ability to
return to his former position as a security guard, he was not disabled.
(R. 69, 73-74, 222, 228.) Following a hearing, Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") Percival Harmon issued a written order dated October 12, 2001,
finding that Davis was not disabled under the Social Security Act, as he
was "able to perform his past relevant work as either a security guard or as an electrical assembly inspector."
(R. 18.) Alternatively, the ALJ determined there were "a significant
number of jobs in the national economy that he could perform." (R. 18.)
On November 8, 2002, the SSA Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review. (R. 7.) Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the ALJ's
decision, which stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. (R. 7.)
A. Plaintiff's Work And Medical History
Over the years, Plaintiff has worked a variety of jobs, including
restaurant worker, PC board assembler and inspector, inspection molding
machine operator, security guard, and metal press and forklift operator.
(R. 15-16, 29-31, 60, 120-127.) Plaintiff last worked in January 2000
performing "housekeeping or environmental service" for Gundersen Lutheran
Hospital in Minnesota. (R. 120, 124.)
On or about January 23, 2000,*fn2 Plaintiff began experiencing
seizures. (R. 147.) On January 30, Plaintiff's girlfriend found him lying
on the floor having a seizure,*fn3 lasting approximately two minutes,
which caused Plaintiff to bite his tongue. (R. 209, 212.) Plaintiff's
girlfriend took him to the emergency room at the Community Memorial
Hospital in Winona, Minnesota, where Plaintiff had another seizure and
experienced loss of continence. (R. 212.) A computerized tomography scan
of Plaintiff's head showed normal results. (R. 214.) The reporting
physician*fn4 prescribed Dilantin*fn5 to control Plaintiff's seizures.
(R. 209.) Later that day, Plaintiff returned to the emergency room, as his tongue was swollen and he had difficulty swallowing.
(R. 206-07.) The reporting physician prescribed Augmentin to prevent
infection of his tongue lacerations. (R. 206.)
On February 1, Plaintiff experienced a seizure lasting approximately
one minute. He then lost consciousness for several hours and was
transported to the emergency room at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. (R.
147.)*fn6 The reporting physician gave Plaintiff instructions concerning
medication and directed him to follow up with the neurology clinic. (R.
148.) Plaintiff did return to Cook County Hospital for a follow-up visit
on February 5 to review his Dilantin level. (R. 145-46.)
On March 20, at the Sinai Family Health Centers in Chicago ("Sinai"),
Plaintiff reported a stinging pain in his left arm and difficulties with
his balance. (R. 164.) The Sinai reporting physician found that Plaintiff
had normal coordination, with no motor or neurosensory deficits. (R.
164.) The doctor diagnosed Plaintiff as suffering from an uncontrollable
seizure disorder, increased his Dilantin level, and prescribed
Phenobarbital to help control his seizures. (R. 164.) On March 31, a
Sinai physician warned Plaintiff against driving and noted that he had
not filled his Phenobarbital prescription. (R. 163.)
On April 5, a Cook County Hospital physician performed an
electroencephalogram ("EEC") of Plaintiff. (R. 183-84.) The physician
stated the following:
Background activity consists of well developed and
well organized 9-10 hz waves, bilaterally synchronous
and symmetrical[, i]ntermixed [with] 15-20 hz waves.*fn7
No focal or generalized abnormality was detected[;
h]yperventilation produced no abnormalities[; p]hotic
stimulation produced no driving[; d]rowsiness showed
generalized attenuation and slowerfrequencies[; and
b]rief sleep was characterized by bilaterally synchronous and symmetrical activity.*fn8
Impression: [n]ormal EEG in wake, drowsiness, and
On May 1, Dr. Howley Stevenson of the Southwest Medical Center in
Chicago examined Plaintiff and completed an Epilepsy Report for the
Bureau of Disability Determination Services of the Illinois Department of
Human Services. (R. 141-43.) Dr. Stevenson diagnosed Plaintiff's
condition as a seizure disorder and noted that Plaintiff's seizures were
nocturnal, occurred three times per month, and typically resulted in loss
of consciousness, tonic/clonic movement,*fn9
and urinary incontinence.
(R. 142.) On June 9, Plaintiff told a Sinai reporting physician*fn10
that he had experienced a seizure on an unspecified date, had failed to
take some of his Dilantin, and was having trouble maintaining his
balance. (R. 161.) The physician observed that Plaintiff had ataxia.*fn11
On June 21, Dr. Henry Bernet completed a Physical Residual Functional
Capacity Assessment of Plaintiff in connection with Plaintiff's
application for DIB and SSI benefits. (R. 149-56.) Dr. Bernet reported
that Plaintiff could "[o]ccasionally lift and/or carry (including upward
pulling)" up to 50 pounds, "[f]requently lift and/or carry (including
upward pulling)" up to 25 pounds, "[s]tand and/or walk (with normal
breaks) for a total of about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday," "sit (with normal breaks) for a total of about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday,"
and "[p]ush and/or pull (including operation of hand and/or foot
controls) unlimited." (R. 150.) Dr. Bernet also stated that Plaintiff had
no manipulative, visual, or communicative limitations, although he could
not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and had to "avoid even moderate
exposure" to "hazards (machinery, heights, etc.)." (R. 150-53.)
On July 10, a Sinai physician indicated that Plaintiff had complained
of problems with his balance and that he was continuing to experience
seizures. (R. 159.) Plaintiff also told the physician that, although his
previous seizures had always been preceded by "an aura of numbness" on
his left side, he had experienced "no recent episodes" involving such
sensation. (R. 159.) Although the Sinai physician found no focal
neurological deficits,*fn12 he diagnosed Plaintiff with mild gingival
hyperplasia.*fn13 (R. 159.) On August 11, Plaintiff reported to a Sinai
physician that he had experienced two seizures during July*fn14 and one
during the previous week. (R. 158.) The physician again diagnosed
Plaintiff with mild gingival hyperplasia. (R. 158.)
On September 28, Plaintiff went to South Shore Hospital in Chicago
complaining of frequent vomiting and loss of balance, (R. 197-98, 201.)
Neurological tests, including an evaluation of his motor skills, showed
normal results. (R. 199.) Plaintiff's chart indicated that he had not
taken any medications recently, (R. 198),*fn15 and ...