United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
RICKEY L. GARY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Valdez, Magistrate Judge
action was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
denying Plaintiff Rickey Gary's (“Plaintiff”)
claim for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the
Act”). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction
of the United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(c). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's
motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 12] is denied and the
Commissioner's motion [Doc. No. 20] is granted.
applied for SSI on January 4, 2010 alleging an onset date of
June 1, 2006 due to loss of hearing in both ears, Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (“HIV'), and a seizure
disorder. (R. 270-72, 287.) The application was denied
initially and again upon reconsideration. (R. 181-82.) After
both denials, on November 9, 2010, Plaintiff filed an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) hearing-request
pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 404.929 et seq. (R.
195-97.) The hearing was scheduled on December 2, 2011. (R.
54-180.) Plaintiff appeared for his hearing along with his
attorney and testified before the ALJ. (Id.) A
Vocational Expert (“VE”) was also present to
offer testimony. (Id.) On March 14, 2013, the ALJ
issued a written determination finding Plaintiff not disabled
and therefore denied his SSI application. (R. 24-48.) The
Appeals Council (“AC”) denied further review on
October 8, 2014. (R. 1-3.)
medical records indicate that he was admitted to the
University of Chicago Medical Center on October 27, 2008 due
to a seizure. (R. 362.) It was noted that this was
Plaintiff's first seizure. (R. 367, 370.) On October 22,
2009, Plaintiff was admitted to Provident Hospital for
another seizure episode. (R. 388.) Hospital evaluations
indicate that Plaintiff had a normal CT scan and other
laboratory testing and he was released on the same day. (R.
377.) On January 27, 2010, Ms. Marcella Jackson, a family
friend, completed a seizure description form for Plaintiff.
(R. 312.) She wrote that Plaintiff has at most one seizure a
month and stated that she has only witnessed one of
Plaintiff's seizures on July 15, 2009. (Id.) She
stated that when Plaintiff experiences a seizure, he bites
his tongue and is disoriented or confused after the episode.
(Id.) On January 28, 2010, Plaintiff's mother,
Ms. Carolyn Gary, also completed a seizure description form.
(R. 313.) She noted that she only witnessed one of
Plaintiff's seizures in December 2009. (Id.) She
stated that Plaintiff has at most one seizure per month.
(Id.) She further noted that during an episode,
Plaintiff will bite his tongue and bang his head on the
began seeking psychiatric help from the CORE Center at
Stroger Hospital (“CORE Center”) since December
18, 2009 for depression. (R. 420.) During his initial
screening, Plaintiff noted that he had many psychological
stressors such as financial and familial problems.
(Id.) He reported lacking sleep. (Id.)
After the mental status exam, the doctor noted that
Plaintiff's judgment and insight were poor, however, he
was at minimal suicidal risk. (R. 421.) Plaintiff continued
to visit the CORE Center throughout 2010. (R. 424-30.) On
June 18, 2010 it was noted that Plaintiff no longer suffered
from seizures. (R. 430.) Plaintiff did not return to the CORE
Center for some time but on April 19, 2011, Plaintiff
returned and underwent another psychosocial screening because
he felt that his depressive symptoms were returning. (R.
532.) After a medical evaluation, the attending physician
found that Plaintiff had minimal suicide risk and had good
judgment and insight. (R. 533.)
22, 2010, Dr. Elizabeth Kuester completed a Psychiatric
Review Technique Form (“PRTF”) in which she
evaluated Plaintiff's affective disorder under listing
12.04 and his substance addiction disorder under listing
12.09. (R. 449-62.) With regard to functional limitations,
Dr. Kuester noted that Plaintiff had mild limitations in the
areas of social functioning, activities of daily living, and
maintaining concentration, persistence, and pace. (R. 459.)
Dr. Kuester noted that the medical evidence does not support
Plaintiff's allegations regarding his mental impairments,
as they tend to suggest minimal treatment, mild limitations
in social functioning, as well as a lack of severe
psychiatric restrictions. (R. 461.)
1, 2010, Dr. Rochelle Hawkins of Disability Determination
Services conducted an exam evaluating Plaintiff's
disability due to HIV and seizures. (R. 435-442.) A physical
examination returned normal results and Dr. Hawkins opined
that Plaintiff did not have any restrictions or
abnormalities. (R. 436-37.) He had normal range of motion in
his arms and legs. (R. 439-42.) With regard to his knees, Dr.
Hawkins did not indicate any limitations or abnormalities.
(R. 441.) The same month, on May 27, 2010, Dr. Francis
Vincent completed a physical RFC evaluation in which he
assessed Plaintiff's limitations with his history of HIV,
hearing loss, and seizures. (R. 463-70.) Dr. Vincent noted
that Plaintiff did not have any physical limitations except
that he should avoid concentrated exposure to hazardous
machinery. (R. 467.) Dr. Vincent opined that Plaintiff's
seizures were well-controlled and he is able to hear without
the assistance of hearing aids. (R. 470.)
records indicate that Plaintiff has been a patient at Stroger
since June 18, 2010. (R. 475.) He has been treated for AIDS,
seizures, tobacco use, and occasional cocaine use. (R. 501.)
During a follow-up appointment on February 25, 2011, it was
noted that Plaintiff denied having any further seizures and
that he was progressing as expected. (R. 498, 500.) On March
25, 2011, Plaintiff visited the emergency room at Stroger due
to worsening symptoms of depression. (R. 494, 609-10.) It was
noted that Plaintiff denied having suicidal ideations but he
has had thoughts of hurting himself. (R. 609.) He was
discharged but was diagnosed with major depression. (R. 574,
610.) At discharge, the attending physician noted that
Plaintiff was oriented, coherent, and was low risk for
suicide or homicide. (R. 574.)
March 26, 2011, Plaintiff underwent a comprehensive
psychiatric evaluation at John Madden Mental Health Center.
(R. 581-87.) Though it was noted that Plaintiff was
depressed, the evaluating doctor found Plaintiff to be
cooperative, organized, and goal-directed. (R. 583.) The
doctor further opined that Plaintiff's affect was normal.
(Id.) Likewise, Dr. John Raba also completed a
seizure questionnaire in which he noted that Plaintiff
suffered seizures in December 2009 and February 2010. (R.
568.) He further opined that Plaintiff's associated
mental problems were depression, memory problems, and short
attention span. (R. 569.) Dr. Raba indicated that Plaintiff
would be capable of low stress jobs but he would disrupt the
work of coworkers and would require more supervision than an
unimpaired employee. (Id.) Dr. Raba also opined that
Plaintiff would be absent about two days per month due to his
impairments. (R. 570.)
April 8, 2011, Dr. Raba completed another mental impairment
medical assessment form. (R. 567.) Dr. Raba has treated
Plaintiff since 1991 and noted that Plaintiff visits him
about three to six times monthly. (R. 568.) Dr. Raba opined
that Plaintiff's concentration and attention would be
impaired 70 percent of the workday and found Plaintiff to
have moderate limitations in maintaining activities of daily
living, maintaining social functioning, accepting
instructions and responding appropriately to criticisms, and
getting along with coworkers without unduly distracting them.
(Id.) Dr. Raba found Plaintiff markedly impaired in
his ability to maintain attention, concentration,
persistence, and pace, as well as dealing with normal work
stress. (Id.) Dr. Raba also completed a physical
impairment questionnaire and opined that Plaintiff can lift
five to ten pounds. (R. 571.) He further opined that
Plaintiff could reach overhead 80 percent of the time with
his left and right arm, but is able to grasp and conduct fine
manipulations fully with his left and right hand.
(Id.) He noted that Plaintiff could sit for six
hours in an eight-hour workday and can stand or walk for two
hours in a workday. (Id.)
April 19, 2011, Plaintiff underwent another psychiatric
evaluation with the CORE Center. (R. 526.) Plaintiff stated
during the evaluation that he has been feeling depressed for
a couple years but was never treated for it until March 2011.
(R. 527.) He was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and
advised to receive counseling and medication as treatment.
(R. 530.) He was prescribed Celexa for depression and
Trazodone for anxiety. (Id.) During a follow-up
appointment on June 28, 2011, Plaintiff reported that he was
compliant with his medication after being non-compliant for
two weeks. (R. 510, 514.) He stated that he continued to feel
symptoms of depression due to financial stressors. (R. 510.)
He also stated that he needed financial assistance but could
not find a job. (Id.)
13, 2011, an MRI was taken of Plaintiff's knee after an
altercation with his brother. (R. 608, 613.) It was noted
that there is a large perfusion at the left knee joint but
there was no evidence of fracture or dislocation.