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Terry D. Barnes v. Michael J. Astrue

August 1, 2012

TERRY D. BARNES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sara Darrow United States District Judge

E-FILED Wednesday, 01 August, 2012 02:22:31 PM

lerk, U.S. District Court, ILCD

ORDER

This case involves Plaintiff's application for Social Security disability benefits. The application was denied by Defendant, and Plaintiff sought judicial review. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment seeking reversal of the Defendant's decision and GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Summary Affirmance.

I. BACKGROUND

On August 4, 2004, Plaintiff Terry D. Barnes ("Barnes") filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"), alleging a disability beginning on October 15, 2003. (See Social Security Transcript (the "Record," hereafter referred to as "R.") at 16, ECF No. 12.) The claim was denied after initial consideration on January 10, 2005, and again upon review on April 8, 2005. (Id.) Barnes filed a request for, and was granted, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on June 15, 2005. (Id.) The hearing was held on November 14, 2007. (Id.) Barnes was subsequently found to not be disabled in the ALJ's decision of December 17, 2007. (Id. at 26.) Barnes requested that this Court review the December 17, 2007, decision, but, upon request of Defendant, the Court remanded the case for further proceedings.

(R. at 435.) Upon remand, the Appeals Council determined that further evaluation by the ALJ was warranted and referred the case back to the ALJ on July 21, 2009. (R. at 438.) Pursuant to the remand, the ALJ held a supplemental hearing regarding Barnes' application on January 19, 2010. (R. at 515.) After the supplemental hearing, the ALJ again concluded that Barnes was not disabled because he had not sufficiently demonstrated an inability to perform light or sedentary work. (R. at 423.) The Appeals Council declined to review this determination, and Barnes again requested that this Court review the ALJ's decision denying his application for benefits.

II.FACTS

A.Barnes' Impairments

Barnes was 49 years old at the time of the decision on review and has an eighth grade education. (R. at 69, 517.) Barnes has been diagnosed with diabetes, neuropathy of the legs, irritable bowel syndrome ("IBS"), prostatitis, asthma, chronic fatigue, depression, and anxiety.

(R. at 506.) At the supplemental hearing, Barnes also testified that he is prone to infections and suffers from dizzy spells and headaches. (R. at 533, 538-39.) Barnes alleges disability since October 15, 2003. (R. at 423.) Barnes does not have health insurance and cannot afford regular medical treatment. (R. at 557.)

Barnes' most recent job was as a self-employed groundskeeper. He has not worked since 2001. (R. at 107.) Barnes testified that he is unable to work due to pain in his legs, IBS, and depression. (R. at 393.) In 2008 and 2009, Barnes testified that he attempted to mow his own lawn as many as ten times per year but was unable to continue for more than five minutes at a time. (R. at 522-23.) He denied doing any household chores beyond occasionally washing single dishes and watering farm animals. (R. at 526.) His wife, Tina Barnes ("Mrs. Barnes"), testified that Barnes sometimes cleans by wiping off countertops and shaking rugs. (R. at 550.)

However, at the initial hearing in 2007, Barnes conceded that he was able to take his dog on walks. (R. at 400.) Barnes also testified that he is able to prepare a light meal using the stove up to twice a week. (R. at 537.) He has no problems dressing himself or attending to his own hygiene. (R. at 538.)

Barnes generally limits the amount he drives to short distances, due to his IBS and neuropathy. (R. at 530.) Mrs. Barnes has to drive him to visit family members, which she does once or twice a week. (R. at 528.) Barnes will also, on occasion, accompany his wife to shop for groceries. (R. at 526.) At the initial hearing, Barnes testified that he visited casinos up to three times a month to play slot machines. (R. at 402.) At the supplemental hearing, however, Barnes amended that ...


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