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Lima v. Astrue

February 17, 2010

CHRISTINA D. LIMA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jeanne E. Scott United States District Judge

OPINION

JEANNE E. SCOTT, U.S. District Judge

Plaintiff Christina E. Lima appeals the denial of her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income under the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) & 1383(c)(3). The parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Defendant Commissioner's Motion for Summary Affirmance (d/e 9) is ALLOWED, and Plaintiff Lima's Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 5) is DENIED. The Decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

STATEMENT OF FACTS Lima was born on February 9, 1968. She is a registered nurse with a bachelor's degree in nursing. She lives in Springfield, Illinois, with her parents. She has experience working in a variety of jobs in the healthcare industry, including as a nurse and a hospital clerk receptionist. In 2004, Lima was working as a registered nurse in a birthing center. In April 2004, Lima went to the emergency room complaining of fibromyalgia pain. Answer (d/e 3), attached Certified Transcript of Proceedings (R.), at 284. The examination of her at the time showed full range of motion, normal muscle strength and tone. R. 284. The emergency physician gave her pain medication intravenously and by mouth, and discharged her. R. 284.

On August 4, 2004, Lima went to see her primary care physician, Nicole Florence, M.D., with complaints of gastrointestinal pain and stress. Dr. Florence diagnosed Lima with abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, and depression. She referred Lima for a gastrointestinal evaluation. R. 242.

In September 2004, Lima started being treated by psychiatrist Patrick O'Donnell, M.D. Dr. O'Donnell initially diagnosed Lima with general anxiety disorder and nicotine dependence. He assessed a Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of 53. He prescribed medication at that time.

R. 234. On November 24, 2004, Lima spoke with Dr. O'Donnell. His notes indicate that she was having problems at work due to excessive absences. She reported that she "broke down" at work. She also reported taking some college classes and having some problems with those classes. Dr. O'Donnell modified her medications at that time. R. 226.

On or about December 15, 2004, Lima stopped working. On December 15, 2004, Lima spoke to Dr. O'Donnell about her decision to stop working. According to Dr. O'Donnell's notes, Lima stated that she felt she had to resign because people were falsely accusing her of failing to do her job properly. R. 324.

On December 16, 2004, she spoke to Dr. O'Donnell again. She told him that her medication was helping her cope. She also mentioned emailing a man she met online through Yahoo! Personals, and her love of Spanish. She also stated that she was taking some college courses. She received an "A" grade in one course and an incomplete in another course. R. 323.

On December 20, 2004, Lima saw Dr. Florence for pain. Lima reported a fibromyalgia flare-up over the last three days. On examination, Dr. Florence observed trigger point pain. She also noted that Lima was anxious. R. 240-41.

Lima spoke to Dr. O'Donnell on January 10 and 14, 2005. Lima told Dr. O'Donnell that her fibromyalgia was getting worse and that she received a prescription for Darvocet. Lima reported that she was not sleeping well. Lima also told Dr. O'Donnell that she was taking courses toward certification for medical coding. She was taking at least one of the classes online and so could do the work at home. R. 322

On January 28, 2005, Lima saw gastroenterologist William Peterson, M.D., on the referral from Dr. Florence. Dr. Peterson diagnosed probable irritable bowel syndrome. R. 258. He set up tests for her gastrointestinal system, but Lima canceled the tests due to insurance problems. R. 256.

Sometime in January 2005, Lima went on a trip to Disney World. On February 25, 2005, Lima told Dr. O'Donnell that she received a Toradol shot and Darvocet while she was at the hotel at Disney. R. 319. She reported starting a new job at the local community college computer flex center. She said she would be paid minimum wage, but the hours were flexible and she could do homework on the job. She also told Dr. O'Donnell that she was going to meet a guy she communicated with online, but "got cold feet." R. 318.

On March 15, 2005, Lima told Dr. O'Donnell that she experienced the worst flare-up of her life. She also reported having problems sleeping and that she was frequently sleepy during the day. R. 318-19. Lima stated that she liked her job. She reported having two dates with a man from Lincoln, Illinois. R. 317.

On April 8, 2005, Lima saw Dr. Florence. On examination, Lima reported pain on palpitation of her thighs and arms. Dr. Florence gave her an injection for the pain. R. 297. Dr. Florence diagnosed fibromyalgia with moderate severity. Dr. Florence recommended a rheumatologist. R. 297.

On April 11, 2005, Lima reported to Dr. O'Donnell that she was, "flaring a lot more." R. 316. She reported that Dr. Florence (referred to as Dr. Nikki) gave her an injection for the pain. R. 316. She said that she missed a bit of work because of the fibromyalgia flare-up, pollen, allergies and colds. Her energy was normal, and her concentration was a little better. She said that a guy in St. Louis was "bugging" her. She, "concluded [that the ] guy had too many emotional issues." R. 316.

On April 21, 2005, Russell Taylor, Ph.D., reviewed Lima's medical records and performed a mental residual functional capacity assessment. R. 338-55. Dr. Taylor opined that Lima's mental impairments caused moderate restrictions in activities of daily living, moderate difficulties in maintaining social functioning; mild difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence or pace; and one or two episodes of decompensation. R. 352. Dr. Taylor also opined that Lima was moderately limited in her ability to maintain attention and concentration for extended periods, and moderately limited in her ability to accept instruction and respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors. R. 338-39.

Dr. Taylor noted that Lima "alleges fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, ADHD and depression." R. 340. Dr. Taylor noted that Dr. O'Donnell's initial diagnosis was generalized anxiety disorder. Further, Dr. Taylor noted that Dr. O'Donnell's "Mini-Mental Status Exam revealed no cognitive deficits and Intelligence was estimated as average or better. The genesis and rationale for ADHD and Bipolar Dx is not clear." R. 340.

Dr. Taylor noted that Lima was "[a]ble to clean, do laundry, shop, drive, date, run errands, read often, conduct her own finances and assist students in a computer lab. The [clamant] describes her energy as limited and she reports having difficulty with concentration and memory." R. 340. Dr. Taylor opined that Lima's reduced energy levels from her physical impairments could cause moderate limitations in exerting mental control over extended periods of time. R. 340. Dr. Taylor opined that Lima could understand, remember, and execute both simple and complex instructions, and that her adaptive functioning remained intact. R. 340. Dr. Taylor opined that Lima had the capacity to perform substantial gainful activity.

R. 340. On April 22, 2005, state agency evaluator Paul Smalley, M.D., reviewed Lima's medical records and performed a physical residual functional capacity assessment. Dr. Smalley noted that Lima could walk unassisted and could pick up and manipulate objects. R. 337. Dr. Smalley opined that Lima could lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; and could sit, stand, and walk for six hours in an eight-hour work day. R. 331.

On June 7, 2005, Lima went to see Dr. Florence. Dr. Florence gave Lima an injection for her pain. R. 294. On June 13, 2005, Lima went to see Dr. O'Donnell again. R. 312. She reported that she just returned from a trip to Louisiana. She said that she convinced a friend to join her on a trip to a family vacation spot in Minnesota. R. 312. She also reported that she may get an expense-paid trip to Montana to speak. R. 312. She told Dr. O'Donnell that she may get a part-time job monitoring a chat ...


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