United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
I. SCHENKIER United States Magistrate Judge
Linda Hall has filed a motion seeking reversal of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
("Commissioner") denying her application for a
period of disability, disability insurance benefits
("DIB"), and Disabled Widow's Benefits
("DWB")under Sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the
Social Security Act (doc. # 18). The Commissioner has filed
her own motion seeking affirmance of the decision denying
benefits (docs. ## 22, 23). For the following reasons, Ms.
Hall's motion is granted, and the Commissioner's
motion is denied.
Hall applied for benefits on March 29, 2012, alleging she
became disabled on March 22, 2012 (R. 21, 231-39). Her last
insured date is December 31, 2016 (R. 20, 274). The
application was denied initially on July 12, 2012, and upon
reconsideration on December 12, 2012 (R. 149-52, 161-64). Ms.
Hall, represented by counsel, appeared and testified before
an administrative law judge ("ALJ") on November 4,
2013 (R. 41-81). A vocational expert ("VE") also
testified (R. 81-91). On March 25, 2014, the ALJ issued a
decision finding that Ms. Hall was not disabled and denying
her claim for benefits (R. 20-34). The Appeals Council denied
Ms. Hall's request for review on July 13, 2015, making
the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner
(R. 1-7). See Shauger v. Astrue, 675 F.3d 690, 695
(7th Cir. 2012).
begin with a summary of the administrative record. Part A
reviews Ms. Hall's medical history, Part B reviews the
hearing testimony, and Part C summarizes the ALJ's
Hall was born on October 18, 1961 and was fifty-two years old
at the time of the hearing (R. 48). She left high school
after her junior year and never completed a degree
(Id.). Ms. Hall's past work includes working as
a fast-food restaurant manager and as a cashier in a gas
station (R. 81-82).
October 1, 2011, Ms. Hall sought emergency treatment at
Provena St. Mary's Hospital after she fell off a horse
and was trampled. An x-ray showed a left-shoulder separation
in the acromioclavicular ("AC") joint, but no
evidence of a fracture (R. 367). She was treated with
prescription pain medication and released (R. 356).
March 21, 2012, Ms. Hall presented at Ingalls Memorial
Hospital complaining of atypical chest pain (R. 473-81). She
was admitted for observation but was released the next day
after initial tests failed to confirm a myocardial infarction
(R. 441, 486). On March 23, 2012, however, Ms. Hall again
appeared at Ingalls Hospital complaining of severe chest
pain. She was given intravenous heparin, an anticoagulant
drug, and an electrocardiogram ("EKG") test (R.
441). Attending physician Sujith Sundararaj determined that
she had experienced a non-ST myocardial infarction - that is,
a heart attack that does not show a change in the ST segment
elevation in an EKG test (Id.). Dr. Sundararaj noted
that Ms. Hall had a longstanding history of high blood
pressure and diabetes, but was "notoriously
noncompliant" with treatments recommended for those
disorders (Id.). A spiral CT exam showed no evidence
of an aneurysm or pulmonary embolus (R. 467). A coronary
angiography showed a ninety percent stenosis of Ms.
Hall's left circumflex artery, and a stent was inserted
to revascularize it (R. 413, 443). She was released from the
hospital on March 26, 2012 and directed to continue taking
aspirin, Plavix, an unspecified beta blocker, and
nitroglycerin for her heart condition (R. 443, 445).
weeks later on April 12, 2012, Ms. Hall's family
physician Dr. R. Medavaram issued a brief assessment of her
work abilities. Dr. Medavaram stated that she could only lift
up to five pounds occasionally, stand or walk for less than
one hour a day, and sit for less than two hours in an
eight-hour workday (R. 403). Dr. Medavaram also opined that
Ms. Hall could reach overhead and carry out fine and gross
manipulation with her hands only occasionally (Id.).
days later on April 17, Ms. Hall appeared once more at
Ingalls Hospital complaining of chest pain. Dr. Sudarararj
ruled out a further heart attack and attributed the pain to a
musculoskeletal origin (R. 415). Ms. Hall was released with a
notation that she was currently taking aspirin, insulin and
metformin for diabetes, the hypertension medication
lisonopril, the beta blocker metoprolol, Lipitor, and the
anticoagulant Effient (Id.).
April 23, 2012, Ms. Hall completed a function report for the
bureau of Disability Determination Services ("DDS")
(R. 307-13). Ms. Hall described her activities of daily
living ("ADL") as minimal. She takes her medications
after breakfast and then must take a nap to cope with the
fatigue that results from them (R. 308). Ms. Hall can feed
her cat and dog but is unable to walk the dog or clean the
cat's litter box (Id.). She is able to shop for
food once a week for thirty minutes, but Ms. Hall stated that
she can only prepare meals such as sandwiches and microwave
dishes that require five minute of work (Id.). Ms.
Hall is able to wash dishes on some days but cannot do other
household work because exertion makes her tired and gives
rise to chest and leg pain (R. 309-310). She goes outside
once or twice a week but only to go the grocery store (R.
311-12). Ms. Hall stated that she is able to walk one block
before she needs to rest for fifteen minutes (R. 312).
November 6, 2012, psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Karr conducted a
consultative examination of Ms. Hall for DDS and issued a
written report (R. 625-28). Ms. Hall described daily
activities corresponding with those set out in her DDS
self-report (R. 625). She told Dr. Karr that she feels
overwhelmed by activities such as going to church or playing
with her grandchildren (Id.). She also stated that
she depends on her daughter to do laundry, shopping, and
household chores (R. 625-26). Ms. Hall claimed that she had
briefly received treatment from a mental health professional
when she was twelve but otherwise had no treatment history
(R. 626). Ms. Hall reported that she was depressed, worried
and unable to relax (Id.). Dr. Karr noted that Ms.
Hall did not have any apparent cognitive difficulties, showed
no interpersonal discomfort, and that her affect did not
demonstrate any agitation or anxiety (Id.). He
diagnosed her as suffering from a depressive order not
otherwise specified ("NOS") (R. 628).
November 28, 2012 treatment note from Ingalls states that Ms.
Hall had continued to have intermittent chest aching that was
unrelated to exertion and which occurred randomly at
different times during the day (R. 667). Her medication
regime had expanded at that point to include amitriptyline,
clopidogrel, fluconazole, insulin, metformin, magnesium oxide
for a magnesium deficiency, metoprolol, a nicotine patch,
enalapril, and pantoprazole, and the statin Crestor (R.
December 5, 2012, Ms. Hall appeared once again at the
Ingall's emergency room complaining of chest pain
associated with nausea (R. 635). She was released after the
pain resolved, and was urged to lose weight and continue with
her medications (R. 636). The December 5 entry also noted
that Ms. Hall's use of amitriptyline was designed to
treat diabetic neuropathy (Id.). Ms. Hall had
received a diagnosis of "possible neuropathy" at
Stroger Hospital on July 12, 2012, when she complained of
tingling in her hands (R. 604-05). An August 22 treatment
entry explained that, in addition to hand tingling, Ms.
Hall's blood sugar level had been poorly controlled in
the past (R. 581). Insulin had first been prescribed to treat
Ms. Hall's diabetes one month after the March 2012 heart
attack (R. 612). Even then, her blood sugar level continued
to be 255 in May 2012, 218 in July and August, and 261 in
December (R. 583, 600, 613, 720). In December 2012, Ms. Hall
was again diagnosed with possible diabetic neuropathy after
she complained of burning in her feet (R. 719-20).
December 5, 2012, Dr. David Gilliland completed a
psychological Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC")
assessment of Ms. Hall (R. 132-33). Dr. Gilliland reviewed
Dr. Karr's November 2012 report, and concluded that Ms.
Hall suffered from a non-severe affective disorder (R. 132).
He stated that Ms. Hall's depression created only mild
limitations in her ADLs, social functioning, and
concentration, persistence and pace (R. 132-33). She had not
experienced any episodes of decompensation (R. 133). One day
later on December 6, 2012, Dr. Charles Kenney completed a
physical RFC assessment of Ms. Hall that affirmed an earlier
set of findings issued by state-agency expert Dr. Vidya
Madala (R. 97-101, 122-26). Dr. Kenney found that Ms. Hall
could lift and/or carry up to twenty pounds occasionally and
ten pounds frequently; could stand and/or walk for six hours
in an ...