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Hickman v. Astrue

January 24, 2009

GREGORY HICKMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles H. Evans, U.S. Magistrate Judge

OPINION

Plaintiff Gregory Hickman appeals from the Defendant Commissioner's final decision to deny his application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income (collectively Disability Benefits). 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423, 1382c. The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to have this matter proceed before this Court. Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, and Order of Reference (d/e 9). The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum (d/e 11); Motion for Summary Affirmance (d/e 14).

This Court has jurisdiction to hear this appeal. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c). For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision, allows the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Affirmance, and denies Hickman's Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Hickman was born October 12, 1958. Birth Certificate (d/e 12). Hickman graduated high school in May 1976. In addition to high school, Hickman took courses in computer programing, business management, data processing, and corrections. Answer (d/e 7), attached Certified Transcript of Proceedings before Social Security Administration (r).) at 162, 165. Hickman worked as a hotel houseman, corrections officer, security officer, care taker, maintenance worker, file clerk, and laborer. R. 153, 169-174. Vocational Expert Bonnie Gladden classified Hickman's past relevant work as banquet attendant, fast food worker, stock clerk, janitor/maintenance worker, corrections officer, security guard, and file clerk. R. 41.

Hickman filed his application for Disability Benefits on August 14, 2006. He alleged he was disabled since February 28, 2005, due to headaches, back pain, blurred vision, pain in his left shoulder and arm, arthritis in his left hand, shortness of breath, constant fatigue, spinal scoliosis, and back spasms. R. 152.

Hickman was in an automobile accident on March 4, 2004. He was treated at a hospital emergency room for a neck strain and head contusions. A CT scan of the cervical spine showed mild cervical thoracic scoliosis and mild C5-6 degenerative changes and straightening of the normal cervical lordosis, but not prevertebral soft tissue swelling. R. 270, 299. A CT scan of Hickman's head showed no abnormalities. R. 271, 301-02. Hickman saw James Stegeman, M.D., for a follow-up visit on March 8, 2004. Hickman complained of paresthesia down his left shoulder and deltoid area, and some sense of weakness. Dr. Stegeman diagnosed Hickman with whiplash/neck strain with possible pressure on a nerve. Dr. Stegeman referred Hickman to physical therapy for evaluation and treatment. R. 264. Hickman reported to Dr. Stegeman on March 22, 2004, and April 5, 2004, that the therapy was improving his condition. On April 5, 2004, Dr. Stegeman released Hickman to return to work as a maintenance worker. R. 262-63.

On September 12, 2004, Hickman went to the emergency room at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, due to pain in his left hand.

R. 277-81. Hickman had fallen on his hand in August 2004. X-rays showed a small fracture in his left hand. His hand was put in a splint and he was released for light duty work. R. 281.

On October 19, 2004, Hickman went to see Dr. Stegeman complaining of discomfort in his neck and back. Hickman had missed four days of work because of the pain. Dr. Stegeman found some tightness and tenderness in Hickman's spine, but Hickman demonstrated no limit on the range of motion in the spine. Dr. Stegeman released Hickman to return to work without restrictions. R. 261.

On February 15, 2005, Hickman was seen by a chiropractor. Hickman reported persistent headaches, neck and back pain, and blurred vision. The chiropractor found reduced range of motion in Hickman's back, but normal strength generally. The chiropractor recommended regular treatments for the next eight weeks. R. 254.

On February 17, 2005, Hickman saw Dr. Stegeman for headaches and left arm pain. Hickman reported that he missed work for a week due to the pain. Dr. Stegeman found some tenderness in the back and shoulder muscles and some discomfort in the movement of the left shoulder. Otherwise, Hickman had full range of motion and good arm strength.

Hickman reported that he was visiting a chiropractor. Dr. Stegeman kept Hickman off work at this time. Dr. Stegeman recommended physical therapy, but Hickman preferred working with the chiropractor. R. 260.

On May 19, 2005, Hickman returned to see Dr. Stegeman. Hickman did not complete the course of treatment with the chiropractor because he ran out of money. Dr. Stegeman found no tenderness or tightness in Hickman's back, but neck motion caused discomfort in the left arm. Dr. Stegeman also found that Hickman's hand grasp was weaker on the left. Dr. Stegeman released Hickman to return to work with the following restrictions: no ...


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