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King v. Colvin

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

August 25, 2016

Clinton King, Plaintiff,
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


          Iain D. Johnston United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Clinton King brings this action under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), challenging the denial of social security disability benefits.


         On January 6, 2012, plaintiff Clinton King filed an application for supplemental security income, alleging psychological and physical impairments. As he states in his opening brief, “he was, and continues to remain, homeless” and has “a long history of mental illness” and “a history of incarceration.” Dkt. #11 at 1-2. He also has diabetes and back problems.

         In December 2011, he was treated at Crusader Clinic for back pain, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.[1] Id. at 2. He acknowledged that he had been drinking for the last year and was no longer taking his medications. Id. He was given psychiatric medications and pain medications for his back, although he was not prescribed any narcotics because his homeless program would not allow them. Id.

         Also in December 2011, plaintiff had MRIs taken of his lumbar and thoracic spine. Id. The report from the lumbar MRI concluded: “Spondylosis. No acute abnormality.” R. 434. The report from the thoracic MRI concluded: “Minimal lower thoracic spondylosis. Incidental cervical spondylosis.” R. 437.

         Sometime around January 2012, plaintiff learned that he had diabetes type II and was prescribed insulin. Dkt. #11 at 2. Over the next year, he often sought treatment from both Crusader and the emergency room for vacillating blood sugar counts. Id. at 2-3. During this time, he was taking Abilify and Seroquel for his various psychiatric conditions. A few months after taking the medications, he was hospitalized for overdosing on Seroquel while at the same time using cocaine. Id. at 3. He joined a drug treatment program thereafter. Id. In April 2012, he started some form of counseling at Rosecrance. Id. According to treatment notes, he was initially diagnosed with bipolar disorder, PTSD, and alcohol dependence. Id.

         In June 2012, plaintiff went to Crusader complaining of low back pain extending down into his left leg. Another MRI of his lumbar spine was performed. The conclusion: “Mild lumbar spondylosis without acute osseous abnormality.” R. 568. On June 22, 2012, Dr. Kinoshita at Crusader prescribed Sulindac for plaintiff's back pain. Dkt. #11 at 3. Plaintiff continued to go to the emergency room and his primary doctor to treat for high blood sugar and back pain. At a visit to Dr. Kinoshita on December 4, 2012, plaintiff stated that he had been kicked out of the Salvation Army, where he had been residing in an alcohol treatment program, for “possessing contraband medication.” Id. at 4-5.[2]

         In January 2013, plaintiff told counselors at Rosecrance that he had recently been hospitalized because he went into a diabetic coma and passed out on the street. Id. at 5. Later in the month, he returned to an alcohol treatment program. Id.

         As it turns out, the facts summarized above are mostly just for background and do not play any important role in the arguments in this appeal which focuses instead primarily on one document. It is a Functional Capacity Evaluation dated January 22, 2012. Ex. 14F. According to this report, plaintiff was evaluated over two days, January 21st and 22nd, regarding his abilities in 13 categories, such as lifting, standing, sitting, and reaching, and how he could perform them during an eight hour work shift. It is not entirely clear who conducted the evaluation and prepared the report. The name “OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center” is on the top left corner, but the document appears to be on a form from a company called DSI Work Solutions. It contains an “evaluator signature” at the end, but the Court cannot read the name, and the parties have not indicated who this person was, nor what qualifications this person had.

         In addition to the Functional Capacity Evaluation, plaintiff also relies to a lesser degree on two subsequent notes from Dr. Kinoshita's office. Ex. 13F. Both are short handwritten notes on a Crusader form titled “Medical/Dental Release” and were written several weeks after the Functional Capacity Evaluation was prepared. Both seem to be-though this point is somewhat in dispute-attempts to summarize that report. Neither party has stated clearly whether Dr. Kinoshita wrote or signed the two notes. To this Court, the signatures do not look like Dr. Kinoshita's name. Even if Dr. Kinoshita did not write the two notes, they at least correspond to office visits he had with plaintiff. The first note is dated February 15, 2013, and states:

Per functional capacity eval report - he need[s] to stand up a few times an hour, can sit/stand/walk 50% of the time. No bending/reach/lower or elevated activity.

R. 657. In his contemporaneous progress note, Dr. Kinoshita wrote: “45y/o aam presents to office for back pain f/u - in a program, needing note for them saying what he can do, and not.” R. 493. The second note is dated February 26, 2013, and states:

May sit/stand/walk for 50% of the time, need to stand up a few times an hour. Only ...

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