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Lawrence Mickey v. Michael J. Astrue

January 9, 2012

LAWRENCE MICKEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

This action was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff Lawrence Mickey's claim for Supplemental Security Income Benefits. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons that follow, Mickey's motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 17] is granted in part and denied in part, and the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 28] is denied. The Court finds that this matter should be remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Mickey originally applied for Supplemental Security Income Benefits ("SSIB") on December 13, 2004, alleging disability since September 19, 2001.*fn1 (R. 101.) The application was denied on May 31, 2005 and upon reconsideration on September 8, 2005. (R. 83, 91.) Mickey filed a timely request for a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), which was held on March 14, 2007. (R. 637.) Mickey personally appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. (Id.) A medical expert, a vocational expert, and Mickey's case manager also testified at the hearing. (Id.)

On March 30, 2007, the ALJ denied Mickey's claim for benefits and found him not disabled under the Social Security Act. (R. 24.) The Social Security Administration Appeals Council denied Mickey's request for review on June 18, 2008, (R. 5), leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner and therefore reviewable by the District Court under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See Haynes v. Barnhart, 416 F.3d 621, 626 (7th Cir. 2005).

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

A. Background

Mickey was born on October 30, 1960. (R. 61.) At the time of the ALJ hearing, he was forty-six years old. (R. 655.) He is five feet ten inches tall and weighs 245 pounds. (R. 120.) He attended school through the ninth grade. (R. 486.) He was honorably discharged from the military and then worked as a furniture mover. (R. 486.)

Mickey claims disability beginning September 19, 2001 after a four-story fall.

(R. 121.) He suffered rib and vertebrae fractures and injuries to his head and spleen. (R. 202, 210-11, 380.) He also suffers from obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, mood disorder, personality disorder, and polysubstance abuse in remission. (R. 17.)

B. Testimony and Medical Evidence

1. Mickey's Testimony

Mickey testified that before the accidental fall, he was living independently, paying his own rent, and working steadily as a mover. (R. 655, 659.) After the accident, Mickey states that he had to wear a back brace and a walker for nineteen months and had to have three years of physical therapy. (R. 656.) He also testified that he has to walk with a cane and can only stand for fifteen minutes at a time before needing to sit down. (R. 660, 663.) He can also only sit for a few minutes at a time before feeling numbness and pain in his legs. (R. 663.) Mickey testified that his ability to lift and carry any amount of weight has been severely limited since the accident. (R. 664.) He said that he cannot even lift grocery bags at the supermarket. (Id.) Mickey does not drive because he has poor eyesight and cannot pass the eye test for a driver's license. (R. 659.)

Mickey has difficulty remembering dates and appointments. (R. 658, 679-80.) Additionally, because of the medication he takes, he feels lethargic and spends most days sitting and resting. (R. 661, 670.) He often takes thirty to forty minute naps two or three times a day. (R. 676.) Mickey also testified that he has a problem dealing with people. It does not take much to get him angry and he prefers to be alone. (R. 664, 680.) When he was in prison, Mickey requested that he be put in solitary confinement to avoid having to stay with a roommate. (R. 666.) He remained in solitary confinement for fifty-eight out of the sixty-one days he spent in prison. (R. 665.) When asked, Mickey stated that he would have problems being cooperative at work and with ...


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