United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MARIA VALDEZ, Magistrate Judge.
This action was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff Sheila Kloet's ("Claimant" or "Kloet") claim for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance 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, Kloet's motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 11] is granted in part and denied in part. The Government's motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 19] is denied. The Court finds that this matter should be remanded to the Commissioner of Social Security for further proceedings.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Kloet originally applied for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits on February 18, 2009. (R. 132.) In her application, she alleged disability beginning November 5, 2005, based on her bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), anxiety disorder, and chronic pain in her back and hips. (R. 132, 198-99.) Kloet's application was initially denied on July 2, 2009, (R. 81, ) and upon reconsideration on November 23, 2009. (R. 89.) Kloet filed a timely request for a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), which was held on May 12, 2011. (R. 38.) She personally appeared and testified and was represented by counsel. ( Id. ) A vocational expert ("VE"), Lee Knutson, and a medical expert ("ME") Kathleen O'Brien, also testified at the hearing. ( Id. )
On June 16, 2011, the ALJ found that Kloet was not entitled to benefits because she was not disabled under the Social Security Act. (R. 26.) The Social Security Administration Appeals Council denied Kloet's request for review on November 17, 2011, (R. 1-5, ) leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security and therefore reviewable by the District Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See Haynes v. Barnhart, 416 F.3d 621, 626 (7th Cir. 2005).
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
A. Kloet's Personal History
Kloet was born on June 19, 1964. (R. 132.) She graduated from high school and attended two years of nursing school. (R. 180.) Kloet lives in a town home with her husband her two sons. (R. 40, 209.) Prior to her injuries, she worked in schools as a health aide, and a lunch room supervisor. (R. 171.) She has also previously worked as an EMT. ( Id. )
B. Testimony and Medical Evidence
1. Claimant's testimony
Kloet testified that she had surgeries on her hips and neck in October, 2008 and January, 2009. (R. 41.) She injured her back working with children and has a bulging disc at vertebrae L5-S1. (R. 43.) Kloet takes several medications for various ailments, including Lexapro, Seroquel, Metformin and a gastric drug. (R. 45.)
Kloet spends much of her time secluded in her home. (R. 46.) She has bipolar disorder and suffers from bouts of severe anxiety and depression. (R. 48.) Although Kloet is able to drive, her husband drives her children to and from school because of her mental health issues. (R. 44, 46) Her husband also does most other household chores. (R. 46, 52.) Some days, Kloet feels so overwhelmed that she does not leave her bed. (R. 48.)
Because of her problems with bipolar disorder, Kloet experiences cycles of mania lasting between 24 and 72 hours. (R. 49.) She suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome stemming from abuse by her first husband and from a random assault by a man wielding a baseball bat. (R. 50-51.) The assault left her afraid to go anywhere by herself. (R. 51.) She occasionally hallucinates that she is hearing voices and frequently has paranoid thoughts. (R. ...