United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
ANNA M. KLADIS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner or Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
SIDNEY I. SCHENKIER, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Anna Kladis seeks reversal and remand of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for social security benefits (doc. # 17). Ms. Kladis contends that this decision was not supported by substantial evidence. We disagree.
On February 11, 2010, Ms. Kladis filed her application for benefits, claiming that she became disabled on July 11, 2003 due to "sensitivity to all kinds of chemicals, " "heart races, " "lose balance, " "nausea, " "diarrhea, " "feel like fainting, " "fatigue, " and "breathing problems" (R. 154). Her alleged onset date was July 11, 2003, and her date last insured was December 31, 2005 (R. 149-50).
Ms. Kladis's ailments allegedly began on March 24, 2003, when she went to the hospital complaining of diarrhea and dizziness after exposure (since February 2003) to new cleaning chemicals at her job cleaning and repairing print heads at Videojet (R. 221, 253, 312). Ms. Kladis also visited her treating physician, Dr. John Damergis, in April and May 2003, complaining of these ailments (R. 601-03). At the May visits, Ms. Kladis appeared extremely anxious and weak, and Dr. Damergis recommended that she follow up with an occupational physician (he provided her with contact information for three such physicians) to evaluate the chemicals that she worked with and her reactions to them ( Id. ). Dr. Damergis reported that her physical examination was unremarkable, and he noted that the lab results from her March hospital visit were normal (R. 602). He excused Ms. Kladis from work for the month of June (R. 588, 593).
On June 27, 2003, Ms. Kladis was evaluated by a pulmonologist, Dr. David Cugell (R. 253). Dr. Cugell reported that her physical examination was normal, and he reviewed her recent medical records which showed normal blood chemistry (except for elevated cholesterol) and normal chest x-ray (R. 254-55). Dr. Cugell opined that Ms. Kladis's symptoms and complaints supported a diagnosis of anxiety, which was not the result of any exposure to chemicals (R. 255). He indicated that Ms. Kladis could not resume her normal job due to emotional and psychological reasons, unless better ventilation at her worksite or a different work assignment could reassure Ms. Kladis that her worksite was safe ( Id. ). Dr. Cugell recommended that Ms. Kladis undergo psychological counseling (R. 256).
Ms. Kladis visited the hospital again on July 9, 2003, after feeling weak, off-balance, and having diarrhea, which she attributed to her exposure to the cleaning chemicals at work (R. 264). However, a diagnostic work-up, including blood tests and a CT scan of the head, were normal (R. 266). The hospital treating physician, Dr. Jeanne Johnston, observed that Ms. Kladis appeared "extremely anxious, " and she recommended that Ms. Kladis get fresh air, rest, and follow up with an occupational health clinic (R. 265-66). On July 11, 2003, Ms. Kladis briefly returned to work, only to stop working due to dizziness and nausea (R. 12, 281).
The next medical report in the record is dated more than four years later, in August 2007, when Ms. Kladis visited Dr. Damergis for a general medical examination (R. 409). Dr. Damergis scheduled Ms. Kladis for pulmonary function testing due to her concern about "lung residual from previous inhalation issues" ( Id. ). That testing, and additional laboratory testing, was normal except for high cholesterol (R. 406, 412, 435-36). Dr. Damergis noted that Ms. Kladis was experiencing "[s]ituational stress" associated with an impending divorce, but he offered no opinion that she had mental health problems that required treatment (R. 414). Ms. Kladis visited Dr. Damergis several times during the remainder of 2007 for unrelated issues and screenings (R. 417-24)
The medical record next skips to a March 25, 2010, medical evaluation that Vidya Madala, MD, completed for the Department of Disability Services ("DDS"). Without examining Ms. Kladis, Dr. Madala determined that there was insufficient evidence that she was disabled between her alleged onset date and her date last insured (R. 444-46); on May 11, 2010, Reynaldo Gotanco, MD, affirmed the decision on reconsideration (R. 488-90).
In May 2010, Ms. Kladis began visiting a host of physicians. On May 3, 2010, she visited an allergist, Dr. Jeffrey Kulik (R. 448-50). Dr. Kulik suspected that she had chemical intolerances, but the only treatment was avoidance of the chemicals (R. 450). Based on her symptoms, Dr. Kulik opined that her problem was mostly neurological, and he recommended that she see a neurologist and possibly a psychiatrist ( Id. ).
On May 27, 2010, non-examining DDS consultant Terry Travis, MD, completed a psychiatric review technique for Ms. Kladis based on the medical record. He found insufficient evidence prior to that date to determine if she had a medically determinable impairment (R. 295). Dr. Travis also noted that Ms. Kladis's activities of daily living ("ADLs") did not reveal any significant limitations due to depression (R. 307).
On June 11, 2010, Ms. Kladis returned to Dr. Damergis, complaining of achiness and weakness (R. 500-01). That marked Ms. Kladis's first visit to Dr. Damergis since late 2007. Dr. Damergis opined that most of her symptoms stemmed from anxiety, and he diagnosed her with anxiety disorder (R. 502). He also referred her to a psychiatrist and pulmonary specialist ( Id. ).
On June 14, 2010, Ms. Kladis had a pulmonary evaluation done by Dr. Ahmad Raslan (R. 492). Dr. Raslan found that her physical examination and pulmonary function test were "completely normal" and that her "symptoms are more suggestive for anxiety disorder" (R. 493, 495). Ms. Kladis visited Dr. Raslan again on July 2, 2010, complaining of dyspnea and allergic reactions from exposure to chemicals, but her examination and test results were ...