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Hill v. Colvin

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

February 3, 2015

SONJA HILL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN A. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JORGE ALONSO, District Judge.

Plaintiff appeals defendant's denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income ("benefits"). For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision and terminates this case.

Medical History

Plaintiff went to the emergency room ("ER") on March 14, and August 24, 1997 with asthma attacks. (Administrative Record ("AR") 630, 649.) Each time she was released with prescriptions for asthma medication.

On September 22, 2008, plaintiff went to the ER with an asthma attack. (AR 600.) She was given an Albuterol nebulizer and released with prescriptions for Prednisone, an Albuterol inhaler, and an antibiotic. (AR 601-03).

On February 5, 2010, plaintiff went to the ER, complaining of chest pain, shortness of breath, and cold symptoms. (AR 564-68.) She was released with a prescription for an antibiotic. (AR 571.)

In August 2010, plaintiff was admitted to the hospital for one day with complaints of chest pain and left arm numbness. (AR 302.) Plaintiff told hospital staff that "she used to be on a bunch of medications' a few years ago, but she moved and did not follow up with her primary doctor and never refilled her medications." (AR 302.) The doctor assessed her as having "[m]oderate persistent asthma, " "put [her] back on her Advair and albuterol inhalers which she has been on before, [and] told to continue with these." (AR 302.)

On November 4, 2010, Dr. Rohail, who became plaintiff's primary care physician, admitted plaintiff to the hospital for one day for an asthma attack. (AR 274-75.) She was given intravenous steroids and released with prescriptions for asthma medication. (AR 275.)

On January 9, 2011, Dr. Rohail admitted plaintiff to the hospital for one day because of shortness of breath. (AR 419.) A chest x-ray showed that her "lungs [were] clear." (AR 428.) She was counseled about smoking cessation and discharged. (AR 427.)

On February 19, 2011, at defendant's request, plaintiff had a consultative examination by Dr. Simon, who reported the history of her illness as follows:

[Plaintiff] stated that she was diagnosed with asthma six years ago.... [and it] has [gotten] worse over time. She had four hospital admissions over the past six months. She stated that she usually had one to two admissions in a year. She woke up two to three times a night and seven nights in a week because of shortness of breath. She uses her nebulizer at home three times a day and is compliant with her medications. She stated that she uses her albuterol approximately five times a day every day. She avoids going outside because of shortness of breath. She stated that she is able to walk approximately a block then she has to stop and use her medications because of shortness of breath. She is able to climb one flight of stairs and then has shortness of breath; she has to live on the first floor because she avoids climbing stairs. The last time she saw pulmonologist was one year ago.

(AR 344, 347.) Under the heading "Activities of Daily Living, " the doctor wrote:

She can walk one and half block then has shortness of breath. She can stand for approximately an hour then she feels tired. She can sit, but she was tired. She is able to lift less than 10 pounds, but avoids doing so. She can climb one flight of stairs and has shortness of breath. She is unable to vacuum a normal size room because of shortness of breath. She is able to bathe and dress herself. She does not drive.

(AR 344.) With respect to plaintiff's lungs, the doctor found that plaintiff had "[d]iffuse wheezing and... a cough with deep inspiration. No rales[1] or rhonchi."[2] (AR 345.) The pulmonary function tests showed that medication improved plaintiff's pulmonary function. ( See AR 350-58.)

On April 22, 2011, a medical consultant, Dr. Panepinto, reviewed plaintiff's medical records and completed a physical residual functional capacity ("RFC") for her, which concludes that plaintiff can occasionally lift and carry twenty pounds, frequently lift and carry ten pounds, stand/walk and sit for six hours of an eight-hour work day, occasionally climb stairs, ladders or scaffolds, and should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold or heat, humidity, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor ventilation. (AR 360-63.) The basis given for the RFC is:

PE [consultative physical examination] 2/19/11 indicates... visibly short of breath with minimal exertion, lungs had diffuse wheezing and cough with deep inspiration with no rales or rhonchi, normal gait, all joint were [sic] ...

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