The opinion of the court was delivered by: MICHAEL MASON, Magistrate Judge
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
Plaintiff, Helen L. Montgomery ("Montgomery" or "plaintiff"),
has brought a motion for summary judgment seeking judicial review
of the final decision of defendant Barnhart, who denied
Montgomery's claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and
Supplemental Insurance Income ("SSI") under the Social Security
Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 216, 223, 1614(a)(3). Defendant
Barnhart has filed a cross motion for summary judgment asking
that we uphold the decision of the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ"). We have jurisdiction to hear this matter pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The District Court has referred the matter to us
and for the following reasons, we recommend that the District
Court remand the case back to the ALJ for further proceedings
constant with this opinion.
On February 23, 1999, Montgomery filed concurrent applications
for DIB and SSI alleging a disability onset date of September 15,
1998. (R. 90-92, 351-35). The Social Security Administration
("SSA") initially denied Montgomery's applications on April 22,
1999 and Montgomery filed a timely request for a hearing. (R.
36-39, 355-58). Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Robert Karmgard
conducted a hearing on February 17, 2000. (R. 382-459). On
February 25, 2000, the ALJ ordered the case remanded to the SSA's state agency
for further development of Montgomery's mental impairment. (R.
32-34). On May 19, 2000, the state agency denied Montgomery's
applications. (R. 67-69, 364-66). A week later, Montgomery again
filed a timely request for a hearing. (R. 70). On December 29,
2000, following a de novo hearing, ALJ Karmgard denied
Montgomery's applications for disability benefits finding that
Montgomery was able to perform a limited range of light work and
was thus, not disabled. (R. 28.) See, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567,
416.967. The Appeals Council denied Montgomery's request for
review of the ALJ's decision on July 24, 2002, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security. See Zurawski v. Halter, 245 F.3d 881 (7th Cir. 2001);
Herron v. Shalada, 19 F.3d 329 (7th Cir. 1994).
Montgomery was 51 years-old at the time of the alleged
disability and 53 years-old when ALJ Karmgard rendered his
decision. At all relevant times, Montgomery was "approaching
advanced age." See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1563(d). Montgomery had a
tenth grade education and prior work experience in "picking and
packing" at a warehouse. (R. 127, 122). Montgomery also worked at
a variety of jobs through a temporary agency. (R. 396-403).
At the hearing, Montgomery testified that her disability
started on September 15, 1998, when she experienced her first
blackout. (R. 394-96). She stated that she still experiences
blackouts about twice a week. Id. Montgomery testified that she
believes the blackouts began after she fell down basement stairs
and injured her head. (R. 415). She stated that she experiences
headaches two to three times a week, each lasting between 40
minutes and an hour. (R. 478). Despite medication, Montgomery
experienced approximately 12 to 13 seizures in the past year,
which she says prevent her from going out alone. (R. 412). She also stated that she has daily back pain that
radiates down to her knee cap. Sometimes Montgomery has to
elevate her legs with two pillows to help alleviate the pain. (R.
Plaintiff's Medical Examinations
On March 25, 1999, Dr. Enacopol examined Montgomery at the
request of the SSA. (R. 162-66). Montgomery complained of back
pain, dizziness and shortness of breath with exercise, chest
pressure, headaches, and fainting spells. (R. 162). Examination
of Montgomery's muscoskeletal system revealed no evidence of
deformities, swelling, or redness. (R. 164). However, Montgomery
had limited motion in her lumbosacral spine, secondary to pain.
Id. Her motor power was normal on the right side, but
diminished to 4/5 on the left side, secondary to pain. (R. 165).
Dr. Enacopol diagnosed Montgomery as having osteoarthritis of the
back, uncontrolled hypertension, a history of heart arrhythmia,
and headaches. Id.
On April 13, a state agency physician reviewed Montgomery's
medical records and completed a physical Residual Functional
Capacity ("RFC") Assessment. (R. 169-76). The doctor concluded
that Montgomery could perform light work with occasional postural
activities such as climbing, stooping, kneeling, and crouching.
Id. Specifically, the doctor found that plaintiff could not
lift more than twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds
frequently. She could only sit, stand and/or walk 6 hours in an
8-hour workday and her ability to push and/or pull was unlimited.
On April 28, Montgomery went to the Cook County Hospital
Emergency Room ("ER") complaining of daily headaches for the past
two months and two seizures the night before. (R. 180, 218-23).
One month later, Dr. Dean Thomas Velis examined Montgomery at the
request of the SSA. (R. 188-90). Montgomery told Dr. Velis that her seizures began in March, 1999
and that her most recent seizure occurred that morning. (R. 188).
Dr. Velis reported that Montgomery was overweight and her
symptoms were consistent with grand mal seizures. (R. 190).
However, examinations of Montgomery's back and muscoskeletal and
neurological systems were normal. (R. 189-90).
A second state agency physician reviewed Montgomery's medical
records and completed an RFC assessment on July 7, 1999. (R.
193-200). That doctor found that although Montgomery did not have
any exertional limitations, she could never climb ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds. (R. 195). The doctor also opined that due to
plaintiff's seizures, she should avoid hazards like machinery and
heights. The next day, Montgomery was treated in the ER for
seizure activity. (R. 224).
On August 20, Montgomery went to the neurology department of
the University of Illinois at Chicago ("UIC") complaining of
seven episodes of lightheadedness and a possible syncope with
convulsion. (R. 210-11). Montgomery admitted to head trauma as a
result of being hit by her husband (R. 210). The neurologist
reported mild facial asymmetry. Id.
A September 21 Electroencephalograph ("EEG") revealed a mild
slow wave abnormality on the left temporal area of the brain,
indicating a slight neurophysiological disturbance within that
region. (R. 212). However, no epileptiform discharges were
detected. Id. A physical exam one week later was normal, but a
final report from the UIC neurology department indicated epilepsy
with possible complex partial seizures. (R. 208). On September
30, Montgomery went to the UIC general medicine ...