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Jennifer Lee Moore v. Michael J. Astrue

May 7, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox


Plaintiff, Jennifer Moore, seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("SSA") denying her application for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and Supplemental Security Income Benefits ("disability benefits") under the Social Security Act ("The Act").*fn1 Ms. Moore has filed a motion for summary reversal, seeking to reverse the Commissioner's final decision or remand the case for consideration of the issues raised herein. For the reasons set forth below, Ms. Moore's Motion for Summary Reversal is denied [dkt. 15].

I. Procedural History

Ms. Moore applied for DIB and SSI benefits on October 27, 2008, alleging that she became disabled on September 6, 2007.*fn2 On July 2, 2009, Ms. Moore requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), which was granted on July 27, 2010.*fn3 A hearing took place before ALJ Kathleen Muccerino in Orland Park, Illinois, on August 18, 2010.*fn4 Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on October 22, 2010, concluding that Ms. Moore was not disabled under sections 216(I), 223(d) and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act.*fn5

The Appeals Council denied Ms. Moore's request to review the ALJ decision on July 7, 2011, meaning the ALJ's decision is the final decision of the Commissioner.*fn6

II. Factual Background

The facts set forth under this section are derived from the administrative record. Ms. Moore lists several ailments in her application for benefits, including: irritable bowel syndrome, a history of gastroparesis and Chrohn's disease, hypertension, hypothyroid, prolactin irregularities, carpal tunnel syndrome, foot problems, deep venous thrombosis, depression/anxiety, and back pain. The ALJ determined that these ailments were non-severe because they presented no more than minimal limitations on her ability to work. But the ALJ found Ms. Moore's migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and morbid obesity to be severe impairments. We will limit our review to these severe impairments.

A. Migraines

Between May 2003 and July 2010 Ms. Moore went to six emergency rooms and was seen by seven physicians for treatment of her migraines. Because of the number of visits with different physicians, we will separate our analysis into the time before Ms. Moore's application and the time between Ms. Moore's filing for disability and the hearing. We also highlight important notes in Ms. Moore's medical record.

1. Period Before Ms. Moore's Filing for Disability (Before October 21, 2008)

Though Ms. Moore was diagnosed with migraine headaches at age twelve,*fn7 her medical record for purposes of disability begins January 13, 2003, when she started treatment for her migraines with neurologist Bridgette Arnett, M.D.*fn8 Her initial visits indicate that prior to March 2003, she was typically experiencing headaches one time per month.*fn9 However, by May 2003 she had experienced a headache that had continued for at least four days and kept her from returning to work.*fn10

Around that same time, in May 2003, Ms. Moore began seeing psychiatrist Thomas S. Bartuska, M.D.*fn11 Dr. Bartuska diagnosed Ms. Moore with depression and anxiety, chronic headaches, Chrohn's disease, and hypothyroid.*fn12

Ms. Moore also began seeking treatment from emergency rooms to reduce her pain from migraines. Between March 22, 2005 and October 21, 2008, Ms. Moore entered the St. James Olympia Field Emergency room five times for migraine headaches, nausea, and vomiting.*fn13 During a visit on August 24, 2006 attending physician Lance Wallace, M.D. treated Ms. Moore for severe abdominal pain.*fn14 At this time Ms. Moore asked if her Dilaudid could be changed from subcut to IV.*fn15 (Dilaudid is a semi-synthetic opioid analgesic with effects similar to those of morphine but five times more potent.)*fn16 Because Dilaudid has a quick onset, it is a useful alternative to morphine.*fn17 Dr. Wallace expressed to Ms. Moore that she would benefit from seeing a pain specialist because he was concerned about her becoming habituated to intravenous pain medications.*fn18 Dr. Wallace then spoke with Ms. Moore's primary doctor, Leonard Robinson, M.D., about this and Dr. Robinson concurred.*fn19
Similarly, on November 16, 2006 Ms. Moore was admitted to the Flossmore Emergency Room complaining of a migraine.*fn20 Ms. Moore demanded Dilaudid for her headache but her treating nurse reported that Ms. Moore appeared comfortable and was walking around in no distress.*fn21 Ms. Moore stated that she would rather go to the "ED" than sit in the Emergency room since she was not receiving Dilaudid.*fn22 Ms. Moore later called the nurse into her room to discuss her treatment plan, and requested morphine instead of Dilaudid.*fn23 Dr. Hayes told the attending nurse that Ms. Moore has a strong drug-seeking tendency and should not be given any narcotics.*fn24 Ms. Moore reported that she would like to sign out since she was not getting her preferred migraine treatment.*fn25

Around this time Ms. Moore returned to her neurologist, Dr. Arnett, where improvements of her headaches were noted, but then worsened again to three to four headaches per week.*fn26 By 2007, Dr. Arnett's notes indicate that Ms. Moore had lost her job and the stress of that worsened her headaches.*fn27

In 2007 Ms. Moore also enrolled in a migraine study at the University of Illinois at Chicago. There, to reduce Ms. Moore's migraine pains, Konstantin Slavin, M.D., placed an occipital nerve stimulation generator in Ms. Moore's right infraclacivular region.*fn28 Dr. Slavin noted that he expected Ms. Moore to "continue to enjoy the benefits of stimulation particularly the relief of her chronic migraine headaches."*fn29 He also stated that if Ms. Moore started to have new problems or lost benefits from this stimulation that she should come back and seek additional treatment with him, but he was overall very happy with Ms. Moore's outcome.*fn30

However, Ms. Moore still experienced great pain from her migraines. By April 12, 2007, Dr. Bartuska experienced a similar concern over Ms. Moore's desire for pain medication.*fn31 This was related to Barbara Moore, Jennifer Moore's mother, having paged Dr. Bartuska's office stating, "we think after talking to our daughter's therapist, that she is addicted to narcotics" for her migraines.*fn32

Ms. Moore sought treatment from the Palos Community Hospital Emergency room for headaches, nausea, and vomiting three times between September 20, 2007 and May 18, 2008.*fn33

During Ms. Moore's visit on September 20, 2007 Ms. Moore told Brian Crowley D.O., who was treating her, that her physicians told her to go to a local community hospital to receive Dilaudid for her headaches.*fn34 At this time, there was a long discussion with Ms. Moore concerning narcotic use with headaches.*fn35

On March 10, 2008, Ms. Moore returned to her primary doctor, Dr. Robinson, to discuss pain management. Dr. Robinson noted that he asked her mother, Barbara Moore, to also be present at this visit because of the "growing concern" that Ms. Moore was frequently seeking narcotics, which might be leading to a problem.*fn36 Dr. Robinson continued Ms. Moore on her current medications and recommended that Ms. Moore see a pain specialist, Rajive Adlaka, M.D., to help Moore manage her pain and get Ms. Moore seeing one doctor and using one pharmacist.*fn37

Several months later, Dr. Arnett noted that Ms. Moore was thought to be drug seeking from other physicians, and her recommendation was for Ms. Moore to continue receiving treatment from the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago where she was a part of the brain stimulation study.*fn38 Dr. Arnett admitted that she was inadequately treating Moore's very serious headaches and at this time discharged Ms. Moore from her care.*fn39

Ms. Moore then returned to Dr. Robinson on July 7, 2008 for a checkup.*fn40 Dr. Robinson noted during this examination that Ms. Moore "has been in and out of the emergency room quite a bit since the last time" he saw her and that "[s]he is actually asking for a Porte so that she can get better IV access."*fn41 Dr. Robinson again referred Ms. Moore to a pain specialist and also recommended she see a psychologist.*fn42

2. Period Between Moore's Disability Filing and Hearing (Between October 21, 2008 and July 7, 2010)

On October 24, 2008 neurologist Daniel Hier, M.D. from the University of Illinois wrote a letter stating Ms. Moore was under his care for disabling headaches.*fn43 Dr. Hier stated that Ms. Moore was troubled with "continuous unremitting headaches" and was disabled from working.*fn44

On February 12, 2009 Ms. Moore saw M.S. Patil, M.D., for an examination that was solely for the purpose of providing information to the Bureau of Disability Determination.*fn45 Ms. Moore's neurological examinations were essentially negative.*fn46 At this examination, Ms. Moore stated to Dr. Patil that the ...

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