United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Rock Island Division
ORDER AND OPINION 
JONATHAN E. HAWLEY, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Plaintiff, George Dixon, appeals the
Defendant-Commissioner's denial of his application for
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income. He alleges that the Administrate Law Judge's
(“ALJ”) finding that Dixon is capable of standing
for the time necessary to do light work is not supported by
substantial evidence. This Court disagrees and, accordingly,
DENIES Dixon's Motion for Summary Judgment (D. 8)and GRANTS
the Commissioner's Motion for Summary Affirmance (D. 13).
was 47 years old at the time he applied for disability,
wherein he alleged onset of disability beginning September
15, 2012. (Tr. 20). In the Function Report Dixon submitted to
the Commissioner, he described the effects of his impairments
on his ability to work as follows:
5. How do your illnesses, injuries, or conditions limit your
ability to work?
Knees swell, ankles and legs swell if working an concrete
floor's. Walking and Standing for long periods of time
irritates legs, knee replacement in right leg and knee
reconstruction on left shoulder surgery limits lifting
(Tr. 234). At his hearing before the ALJ, Dixon elaborated
that in 2000 he underwent a total replacement of his right
knee and underwent surgery on his left knee in 2006, after
which time he testified that he used a cane to walk. (Tr.
52). He maintained full-time employment intermittently after
both of these surgeries, but Dixon testified that he could
not now work because “I have to elevate my leg to keep
the swelling down, heart rate. And there's no facility at
a job for me to do that.” (Tr. 48). But for the
problems with his knees, Dixon believed he could work.
testified that he took no prescription medication for his
knee pain, but instead took four or five ibuprofen pills
daily, although he did take prescription medication for his
blood pressure. (Tr. 50). He explained his sporadic treatment
for his knee problems due to a lack of insurance, he not
having the funds for the $20 charged by the community health
center for a visit, although at the time of the hearing he
did have a “medical card.” (Tr. 49).
the medical record, it is indeed sparse. On September 14,
2012, Dixon presented at an emergency room complaining of
swelling in his legs for the previous two days. (Tr. 294).
The treating physician, Dr. Randall Bay, noted “only a
mild amount of discomfort, ” “no discrete injury,
” and “no prior history of similar
symptoms.” (Tr. 294). Dr. Bay recommended Dixon use
nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication for discomfort and
that he rest, limit activity, and elevate his leg “in
the interim” between his ER visit and following up with
his primary care physician. Id.
medical records show no such follow-up visit, but instead
next show another ER by Dixon on December 17, 2012 for knee
pain due to a fall the previous night from stepping into a
hole. (Tr. 330). No mention of previous pain unrelated to the
fall was made. An x-ray was unremarkable, Dixon was
prescribed Norco “as needed, ” and he was sent
home to follow up with his primary care physician. (Tr.
the records reveal no follow-up visits related to Dixon's
knee, although he did see Dr. Simran Jit twice in February of
2013 and once in March of that year for his hypertension.
(Tr. 312-320). The treatment notes from these visits mention
no issues or complaints of pain by Dixon; indeed, the notes
don't mention issues with his knees at all. Id.
in April of 2013, agency doctor James Hinchen examined Dixon.
(Tr. 88-90). This doctor reviewed Dixon's medical records
and concluded that he had no severe impairments. Id.
In reaching this conclusion, Dr. Hinchen noted that
Dixon's ER visits revealed no injury to his leg, mild
discomfort reported, mild tenderness, some swelling, a normal
range of motion, and no gait disturbances. Id. He
also noted the lack of evidence of any further treatment
beyond the ER visit. Given his conclusion that Dixon had no
severe impairment, he did not opine on Dixon's functional
until June 9, 2013, do any knee issues re-appear in the
medical record when Dixon again showed up in the ER
complaining of left knee pain that “began this morning
when he woke up.” (Tr. 341). Dixon reported that he had
been told he needed surgery (although none of the preceding
medical records indicate such advice) and that “this
has been present for a long time.” Id. The
physical exam revealed a normal range of motion, however, and
no swelling, albeit with “tenderness.” (Tr. 342).
An x-ray was again unremarkable. (Tr. 344). The ER physician
made “no acute findings on work up” and, again,
sent Dixon home to follow up with his primary care physician.
next day, Dixon instead went to ORA orthopedics complaining
of knee pain and stating that he was advised to follow up at
ORA, although, in fact, he was told to follow-up with his
primary care physician. (Tr. 325). At that visit, he told Dr.
Michael Berry that “yesterday” he began to
experience left knee pain. He claimed he received cortisone
injections into his left knee every 6 months “for many
years, ” although, again, the medical records are
devoid of treatment notes showing such treatment.
Id. Dr. Berry examined Dixon and his previous x-ray.
He noted radiographic signs of osteoarthritis, “a
failed ACL reconstruction on the left, and likely the
surgical procedure of choice is total knee
arthroplasty.” However, Dr. Berry recommended a
cortisone injection and physical therapy. (Tr. 326). Dixon
was not interested in physical therapy, however, claiming
that it had been ineffective in the past, although no records
show any physical therapy previously. Id. Rather,
Dixon was “adamant” about having a total knee
replacement. Id. He did, however, agree to the
cortisone injection recommended by Dr. Berry that day.
three months later on September 18, 2013, he again saw Dr.
Jit for his hypertension. As with his previous visits with
Dr. Jit, no mention is made ...