The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORTON DENLOW, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case comes before this Court on the parties' cross-motions
for summary judgment. Plaintiff Michael W. Nesbitt ("Claimant")
challenges the decision of Defendant Jo Anne B. Barnhart,
Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), claiming that
her denial of his disability insurance benefits ("DIB") should be
reversed or remanded because the decision contains errors of law
and is not supported by substantial evidence. For the reasons
that follow, this Court affirms the Commissioner's decision.
Claimant filed an application for DIB on December 14, 1999, R.
93-95, alleging that he became unable to work due to back pain
with an onset date of February 6, 1998. R. 115. Claimant was
insured for DIB through June 25, 2002. R. 16. His claim was
denied initially, R. 29-32, and upon reconsideration. R. 34-36.
Plaintiff timely requested a hearing, R. 37, which was held first on July 17, 2001 before Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ") Alan Jonas. R. 239-69. Following that hearing, the
ALJ received additional information from a vocational expert that
prompted a supplemental hearing. R. 271. The supplemental hearing
was held on February 27, 2002. R. 270-310. On June 25, 2002, the
ALJ issued an unfavorable decision, denying Claimant DIB and
finding him not disabled. R. 11-26. On September 26, 2003, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's timely request for review,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner,
R. 6-7. Claimant then filed this action against the Commissioner
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The parties have consented to
this Court's jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).
The ALJ held two hearings in this case. At the July 17, 2001
hearing, the ALJ heard testimony from a medical expert and from
Claimant, who appeared with counsel. R. 239-69. At the
supplemental hearing on February 27, 2002, the ALJ heard
testimony from two vocational experts. R. 270-310.
Claimant, who was born on November 7, 1954, was forty-seven
years old at the time of the first hearing, R. 93, and had
completed high school and one year of college. R. 121. Prior to
his alleged disability date, Claimant worked first as an auto
mechanic and then as a sheet metal worker. R. 116. As a sheet metal worker, Claimant, who was a shop foreman,
constructed and installed heating and air conditioning units and
performed duct work. Id. This work entailed stooping, kneeling,
crouching, and crawling for at least two hours every day, and
walking or standing for seven hours every day. Id. He
frequently lifted fifty pounds or more. Id.
Claimant's injury occurred when he fell from a ladder at work
and consequently sustained multiple disc annular tears, resultant
intractable back pain, and an inability to ambulate. R. 169. At
the emergency room, he was diagnosed with acute back pain strain
versus disc herniation, and appeared very uncomfortable. R.
158-59. After being transferred to another hospital, Claimant
underwent six days of bed rest and treatment. R. 169. He was
discharged after achieving some improvement and minimal pain.
He now claims to suffer from back and right leg pain and to be
limited from overhead work and bending. R. 244-45. Daily nerve
pinches limit his walking, sitting, and sleeping abilities. R.
245. In order to relieve his pain, Claimant moves around by
switching his sitting or standing positions. R. 248-49. He takes
pain relievers. R. 243.
Since he suffered his injuries, Claimant has lived alone in a
trailer, R. 246, performing some household chores. R. 247.
However, he can not perform house maintenance or stand up long
enough to wash dishes. R. 248. He drives a pick-up truck with an
automatic transmission, although he frequently pulls over or
stops driving because of his pain. R. 245-46, 250. He works at
his home computer, though he spends no more than an hour doing
that work. R. 248. Claimant, however, believes that he may be able to
perform a desk job involving computer work if he were allowed to
move around. R. 249.
2. Irwin Rich, M.D. Medical Expert
At the July 17, 2001 hearing, Dr. Irwin Rich, an orthopedic
surgeon, testified as the Medical Expert ("ME"). R. 252-67. After
reviewing the files and interviewing Claimant, the ME determined
that Claimant has an impairment, R. 255, which limits Claimant's
work capacity as follows:
may lift 10 pounds occasionally at table height, may
carry 10 pounds 15 feet, four times an hour in an
eight hour day, sit and stand option is desirable, no
bending, squatting, kneeling, reaching above mid
chest height, or climbing ladders, may push 10 pounds
total, wield device 15 feet, four times an hour
R. 256. Additionally, Claimant cannot stand for a couple of hours
and sitting would depend on the comfort of the chair. R. 258. The
limitations are based upon a reduction in the cushioning effect
of the lumbar interadibal discs, R. 264-65, although the
impairment is a result of mild disclogenic sclerosis in the
lumbar sacral spine, deficiency of the shock-absorbing action of
the lumbar discs, and mild disc bulges, which limit back
function. R. 257. There are, however, no impingements on any of
the lumbar nerves. Id. The ME concluded that the degree and
frequency of pain Claimant complained of is greater than expected
and not consistent with the objective evidence. R. 262.
Vocational Expert ("VE") Grace Gianforte reported that 4,500
jobs exist in the Chicago metropolitan area that conform to
Claimant's limitations. R. 24. She derived her statistics from the State of Illinois Department of Employment
Security Economic Information and Analysis Division from 1990
through 2005. R. 295.
Vocational Expert Susan Entenberg classified Claimant's job as
a sheet metal worker as heavy and skilled, from which there are
no transferable skills to sedentary or light work. R. 281. She
testified that Claimant essentially should be restricted to
sedentary sit/stand work, which includes cashier-type positions,
some clerk jobs, but not a lobby attendant. R. 282. Using the
Occupational Employment Statistics and Wages Estimates from the
Department of Labor, VE Entenberg found a total of 18,790
sit/stand jobs suitable for Claimant. R. 283-85. The VE testified
that her assessment would not change even if Claimant could do
light work while ...