United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
B. KIM, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Moore filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social
Security Act (“the Act”), claiming that the
combination of her degenerative joint disease and obesity
renders her unable to perform full-time work. After the
Commissioner of Social Security issued a final decision
denying her applications, Moore filed the current lawsuit
seeking judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. §§
405(g); 1383(c)(3). Before the court are the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment. For the following
reasons, Moore's motion is denied, the government's
is granted, and the Commissioner's final decision is
filed her SSI and DIB applications in January 2012, claiming
a disability onset date of February 28, 2009. (Administrative
Record (“A.R.”) 160-72.) After her applications
were denied initially and upon reconsideration, (id. at
89-92), Moore sought and received a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”), (id. at 32-88).
On March 26, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision concluding that
Moore is not disabled within the meaning of the Act.
(Id. at 13-27.) The Appeals Council declined
Moore's request for review, (id. at 1-6), making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner,
see Minnick v. Colvin, 775 F.3d 929, 935 (7th Cir.
2015). Moore timely filed this lawsuit seeking judicial
review of the Commissioner's final decision, see
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); (R. 1), and the parties have
consented to this court's jurisdiction, see 28
U.S.C. § 636(c); (R. 7).
years leading up to her claimed disability onset date, Moore
finished one semester of college courses and worked as a
personal assistant, a sales associate in a department store,
and a mail handler with the U.S. Postal Service. (A.R.
39-41.) She claims that in February 2009, when she was 42
years old, she became disabled by chronic pain in her back
and knees. (Id. at 44, 160.) Moore was represented
by counsel at her hearing before the ALJ, where she presented
documentary and testimonial evidence in support of her
April 2009, two months after her claimed disability onset
date, Moore visited Dr. Louis Rohr, her treating physician.
Moore complained of left elbow pain and vertigo when changing
positions. (A.R. 279-80.) Dr. Rohr recorded her height as
five feet five inches and her weight as 343 pounds.
(Id. at 279.) He recommended weight loss and over
the counter anti-inflammatory medication, and wrote that her
knee pain was “resolved.” (Id.) Moore
moved to Iowa shortly after this visit so the next time she
saw Dr. Rohr was six months later when she reported being
able to “walk a distance” unless her back was
hurting. (Id. at 281-82.) Dr. Rohr noted that she
had 1 pitting edema on both sides. (Id. at 281.)
After that visit there is no evidence that Moore sought out
medical treatment for the next year.
that treatment gap and after moving back to Chicago, Moore
visited Dr. Rohr in October 2010 and again reported that she
was not in any pain. (Id. at 283-84, 299.) Dr. Rohr
observed that she had run out of medication three weeks prior
but that her leg swelling and hypertension had both resolved
while she was off medication. (Id. at 283-84.) Moore
next saw Dr. Rohr in June 2011 when she complained of sharp
low back pains and pain in her right knee that was usually
present while she was walking. (Id. at 285-86.)
Notes from this appointment show that Moore's weight had
increased to 385 pounds and that she was not taking pain
medication. (Id. at 285.) Dr. Rohr wrote that her
pain was likely caused by early osteoarthritis because of her
obesity and he prescribed weight loss and Tylenol.
months later, in December 2011, Moore returned to Dr. Rohr
complaining of right ankle pain, low-back pain, and
discomfort in her hip and groin. (Id. at 289.)
Although she reported that her ankle pain got worse with
walking, she told Dr. Rohr that it improved with Ibuprofen
and that she was walking for exercise. (Id.) Dr.
Rohr described Moore as having morbid obesity and anemia but
noted that she had no joint swelling or tenderness and no
point tenderness in her back. (Id. at 289-90.) Dr.
Rohr ordered an MRI of Moore's lumbosacral spine which
showed probable degenerative disc disease at ¶ 3/4 and
L5/S1 with facet joint arthropathy. (Id. at 292.)
Dr. Rohr saw Moore again in February 2012 when she reported
pain in her right knee and a painful left ankle.
(Id. at 294.) Moore had been taking Naproxen for
pain but she reported that it did not help her.
(Id.) Dr. Rohr examined her and noted no effusion or
crepitus but observed that she had tenderness in her medial
joint line in her knees and in her ankle joint as well.
(Id. at 295.) He increased Moore's Naproxen
dosage to 500 mg and added a topical cream to treat her pain.
(Id.) He also ordered an MRI of her knees, which
showed mild to moderate bilateral bicompartmental
degenerative changes with mild bilateral suprapatellar
effusion. (Id. at 312.)
February 2012, Moore reported to an emergency room after
falling down and injuring her right ankle. (Id. at
344.) The hospital records show that she suffered soft tissue
swelling but no fracture or other bony abnormality.
(Id.) The following week Dr. Rohr evaluated Moore
and characterized her injury as an ankle sprain, for which
she was given Ibuprofen and Tylenol 3. (Id. at
365-67.) He noted that Moore was following instructions to
use an ankle splint and crutches and that he observed mild
lateral swelling around her ankles and a slight limitation in
her ankle extension. (Id.) Moore saw Dr. Rohr a week
later for a follow-up and complained that although she had
stopped using crutches and her ankle splint, her ankle was
still hurting. (Id. at 421.) Dr. Rohr observed that
she still had mild ankle swelling but noted that she had
normal strength in her ligaments and walked without a limp.
(Id. at 422.)
March 2012, Moore underwent a consultative examination with
internal medicine specialist Dr. Roopa Karri. (Id.
at 320.) Dr. Karri noted that Moore had 2 pitting edema in
her legs at the time of the exam, but that she was able to
get on and off the exam table and walk 50 feet without
support. (Id. at 322.) She further observed that
Moore had swelling and tenderness in her knees, lumbar spine,
shoulders, ankles, and feet, and that she could not heel/toe
walk, squat, or perform a tandem gait. (Id.) Dr.
Karri observed in her notes regarding the neurologic exam
that Moore “had poor effort and complained of
pain.” (Id.) But later she wrote that
Moore's “[o]verall effort and cooperation were
excellent.” (Id. at 323.) In the
“Impression” section of her report Dr. Karri
wrote that Moore's problems include history of
hypertension, history of arthritis in multiple joints with
decreased range of motion, anemia, and morbid obesity.
days after the consultative examination, consulting physician
Dr. Charles Kenney reviewed the medical records, including
Dr. Karri's report, and submitted an opinion regarding
Moore's residual functional capacity (“RFC”).
(Id. at 325-32.) Dr. Kenney opined that Moore can
stand and walk for six hours and sit for six hours in an
eight-hour day. (Id. at 326.) He further opined that
she could frequently lift 10 pounds but only occasionally
engage in postural activities like climbing, balancing,
stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. (Id. at
327.) In explaining his decision Dr. Kenney wrote that he
found Moore's allegations only partially credible because
Dr. Karri reported that she had made poor efforts during
testing and because she was able to walk and perform daily
activities without assistance. (Id. at 332.) Dr.
Kenney opined that Moore's “allegations are
exaggerated in comparison with the evidence” he
2012, Moore visited Dr. Rohr and reported that she had been
experiencing constant pain in her right shoulder for over a
month and that pain medication was not helping. (Id.
at 356.) Dr. Rohr gave her “Ot and musculoskeletal
referrals” and recommended that she continue with pain
medications and a topical pain relief cream. (Id. at
357.) In August 2012, Moore returned to ...