United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
IAIN D. JOHNSTON, Magistrate Judge.
Joseph Rankin brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking reversal or remand of the decision denying him social security disability benefits based on his life-long cerebral palsy. For the reasons set forth below, the case is remanded.
On February 24, 2010, Mr. Rankin applied for Title II disability benefits, alleging a disability as a result of cerebral palsy since December 31, 1995. R.19.
On December 14, 2011, a hearing before an administrative law judge was held. R. 29-64. The following summary merely sets forth the highlights of the hearing. The ALJ did not discuss any of the hearing testimony in her opinion. The only two witnesses were Mr. Rankin and his brother.
The ALJ conducted the initial questioning of Mr. Rankin. She asked about his education, work experience, and daily life. He testified that he completed high school and got a two-year degree from a local community college. He was 51, single, and had never been married. He had lived almost all his life in the family home, a one story ranch, living there with his mother until she passed away in 2009. R. 36-37.
In high school, Mr. Rankin got a job at a florist owned by a family friend, working there until 1995. This was the only full-time job he has ever held. He did things such as watering and transplanting but no office work. At that time, he could lift up to 20 to 30 pounds due to his cerebral palsy. R. 38-40.
At the time of the hearing, he could only lift 5 pounds, which was hard because of balance problems. He could sit no more than a half hour before needing to get up, and could stand for less than 15 minutes. He could walk about a block but felt a strain doing so. He had to use a cane or a walker. R. 40-44.
Shortly after the hearing, Mr. Rankin's attorney submitted a letter from Dr. Harry W. Darland dated December 14, 2011. It states:
Mr. Rankin has been my patient since he was a teenager. He stopped working in 1996 because of the severe debility associated with his cerebral palsy. Since then he has needed assistance in walking with a cane and [on] occasions a walker. He is unable to do any type of work, even sedentary. This condition has caused him pain and stiffness on his muscles and joints in his upper and lower extremities causing difficulties in normal daily activities. The spasms, pain and stiffness keep him from any prolonged activity and his fine motor skills of his hands and arms are insufficient for any sort of work. He was, and still is, unable to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
The only work he has been able to do is help his mother during the last years of her life when she suffered from severe heart disease. I see him at frequent intervals and I am currently treating his recurrent skin cancer.
His cerebral palsy disability has increased markedly because of his aging. It is my medical opinion that he has not been able to meet any requirements for work, sedentary or otherwise since 1997.
R. 379. Dr. Darland's office separately provided 24 pages of notes. R. 307-330.
On March 16, 2012, the ALJ denied the claim. The ALJ's opinion is five and a half pages, but the analysis portion consists of only the following seven paragraphs (the fourth one being the most relevant for this ...