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Land v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 27, 2014

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


ARLANDER KEYS, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the Court on Plaintiff Kristie Land's motion for summary judgment. [Dkt. 17-18] Ms. Land seeks judicial review of the final decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her claim for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits ("DIB"), and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). Ms. Land argues that summary reversal or remand is appropriate because the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") credibility assessment was not supported by substantial evidence and the ALJ failed to adequately account for Ms. Land's mental impairments in assessing her residual functional capacity ("RFC"). The parties consented to the jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C §636(c). For the reasons set forth below, Ms. Land's motion is denied. The Commissioner's May 23, 2011, decision is affirmed.


Ms. Land applied for DIB and SSI on May 15, 2009. Record at 114. The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. On timely request, a hearing was held before ALJ Michael E. Finnie on March 24, 2011. The ALJ presided over the hearing via video-teleconference from Dallas, Texas, and Ms. Ms. Land appeared in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. R. 23.

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 23, 2011, finding that Ms. Land was not disabled under sections 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act. R.32. The ALJ found that Ms. Land retains the RFC to perform "light work" limited to simple routine tasks with no more than occasional contact with the general public. R.26. The ALJ also found that Ms. Land's allegations were "not fully credible." R. 29.

On August 30, 2012, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's decision, causing it to constitute the final decision of the Commissioner. R. 5-9; 20 C.F.R. §§404.981, 416.1481.


Ms. Land was born on December 31, 1976, making her thirty-four years old at the time of the hearing. R. 114. She is single with three minor children. R42, R. 115. She stands 5'2", weighs approximately 227 pounds, has a GED, and completed Certified Nursing Assistant ("CNA") training. R. 43, R. 136, R. 144. Ms. Land performed heavy work as a CNA for two years. R. 138. Ms. Land last performed substantial gainful activity ("SGA") in 2009, and is insured for DIB purposes through December 31, 2014. R. 131.

Since March 24, 2008, Ms. Land has been treated for diabetes mellitus, lower extremity edema, hypertension, possible diabetic neuropathy, degenerative joint disease, and fatigue. R. 231, R. 244-9, R. 251, R. 308-15, R. 567-8. During that same time period, she presented at emergency rooms numerous times for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or loose stools, migraines, abdominal pain, and gastroparesis. R. 187-91, R. 220, R. 507, R. 531-3, R. 615-53. Ms. Land has also been diagnosed with obesity and sleep apnea. R. 226.

On October 22, 2008, at the Milwaukee Eye Care Associates, Ms. Land was seen for a complaint of diabetes mellitus with no diabetic retinopathy. R. 175-177.

In 2008, Jonathan Marquez, M.D., Ms. Land's primary care doctor, noted mood swings. R. 244-49. At an assessment performed on November 18, 2008, by a psychiatrist and her social worker, Ms. Land was found to have a major depressive disorder with a need to rule out a bipolar disorder. R. 178-84. At that time, her Global Assessment of Functioning ("GAF") was 55. Id. She was referred for talk therapy. R. 184.

On January 11, 2009, Ms. Land was treated at Aurora Sinai Medical Center with the chief complaint of nausea and vomiting. R. 187-220. Her blood pressure was 145/90 and her history of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and hypertension were noted. R. 189.

On January 22, 2009, Ms. Land began treatment with Kenneth Erdmann, M.D., of Renew Counseling Services. R. 226. On February 12, 2009, Ms. Land reported feeling anxious and depressed. She reported auditory hallucinations. Dr. Erdmann diagnosed Ms. Land with depression with psychotic features. R. 225. Dr. Erdmann prescribed Benadryl, citolopram (Celexa) and temazepam (Restoril). R. 225. On July 20, 2009, Dr. Erdmann increased her dosage of Topamax and Wellbutrin, and continued her temazepam. On September 21, 2009, Ms. Land was prescribed Ambien and clonazepam (Klonopin). R. 274, R. 276.

On May 22, 2009, Ms. Land saw Dr. Jonathon Marquez for a follow up appointment for her diabetes and high blood pressure. R. 230-31. At that time, Ms. Land reported having tingling of both hands and feet. Her blood pressure was 130/90 and she was in no acute distress. R. 230. Her extremities ...

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