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Edward A. Schwarz v. Michael J. Astrue

January 9, 2012

EDWARD A. SCHWARZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James E. Shadid United States District Judge

Monday, 09 January, 2012 11:25:34 AM

Clerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER

This matter is now before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Reversal and the Commissioner's Motion to Affirm. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Reversal [#6] is DENIED, and the Commissioner's Motion to Affirm [#7] is GRANTED.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Edward Schwarz ("Schwarz"), was 46 years' old at the time of his administrative hearing. (R18) He did not complete high school but later obtained his GED. Id. Schwarz is married and has children. (R26) He lives with his wife and 23-year-old son. Id. He was employed as a union painter until he was forced to take a disability pension in 2003. (R19)

Following a motorcycle accident in 2004, Schwarz has experienced numbness and pain in the left side of his body, pain in his right shoulder, and constant ringing in his ears. (R20-21) He stated that the pain keeps him from sleeping and has required him to take Vicodin for five years to take the edge off; on a good night, he gets three hours of sleep. (R21, R25, R29) Sitting still or laying back on his arm also causes his pain to worsen. Id. Riding in the car for long periods of time is hard on his neck and shoulder, but he was able to make the 100-mile trip to take his mother and wife to Chicago to see a play for Mother's Day. (R22) Schwarz tries to help with the household chores but is told he doesn't do a good enough job. Id. Despite this, he still cooks dinner, does dishes, and vacuums the living room an average of once a week and occasionally mows the lawn on a riding mower. (R22-23) He has problems gripping buttons/zippers, opening jars, turning pages and is not supposed to lift more than 25 pounds without taking the chance of re-injuring himself. (R24) Schwarz describes his main limitations as lacking "the ability to work for a straight eight hours without having to sit and take breaks to allow the pain to settle down through my neck and shoulder." (R30) He clarified that to be more comfortable, he needed to be standing more than sitting and that he could possibly do a job where he could stand most of the time. (R32)

Schwarz estimates that at most, he can sit for 15-20 minutes before he needs to get up and walk to relieve pain. (R25) He has difficulty remembering where he puts things and staying on task. (R26, R29) His wife or daughter generally do the grocery shopping, although he goes with them from time to time for something to do. (R27) Schwarz also helps by doing two loads of laundry a week. Id.

On September 20, 2007, Schwarz applied for disability insurance benefits ("DIB"), alleging disability that began on August 28, 2007.*fn1 His application was denied both initially and on reconsideration. Schwarz requested a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). A hearing was held before ALJ Timothy Mangrum on August 7, 2009, at which Schwarz, who was represented by counsel, and vocational expert ("VE") James E. Lanier appeared and gave testimony.

The ALJ posed a hypothetical question to the VE:

Q: [L]et's assume we have a person of claimant's age, education, and work experience and we're going to limit to light exertional work, sir. I'm going to restrict to no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Reaching, let's see, reaching on the left limited to occasional and on the right to frequent, and the right being the dominant extremity. Overhead reaching --

A: Reaching occasional?

Q: On the left and frequent for the right.

A: Yeah.

Q:Overhead reaching limited to occasional bilaterally. Handling and fingering limited to frequent bilateral. Okay, with those limitations I'm assuming the person could not do the claimant's past work since they're both at medium.

A: You're correct.

Q: Would there be other jobs at those limitations a person could do? A: Okay, starting at light work order, O-R-D-E-R, caller, DOT number 20, excuse me, 209.667-014, SVP 2, light, Illinois 7,000; hand presser, DOT number 363.684-018, SVP 2, light, 6,000. Now I would like to give you a couple of sedentary.

Q: All right, sir.

A: Surveillance system monitor, DOT number 379.367-010, SVP 2, sedentary, 5,400; and polisher, eyeglass frames, DOT number ...


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