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Stile v. Colvin

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

July 7, 2017

BONITA R. STILE, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


          HON. MARIA VALDEZ United States Magistrate Judge

         Bonita Stile ("Claimant") seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("SSA"), denying her application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under the Social Security Act ("the Act"). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Local Rule 73.1, the parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge for all proceedings, including entry of final judgment. [Doc. No. 8.] Before the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. [Doc. No. 12, 14.] For the reasons below, Claimant's motion for summary judgement is denied and the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment is granted.



         Claimant filed her DIB application on May 13, 2010, alleging a disability due to a back injury, arthritis, blindness in the right eye, fibroids, and endometriosis.[1](R. 156-57, 178.) Her alleged onset date is March 3, 2008. (R. 175.) Her claim was denied initially on August 23, 2010 and again on reconsideration on July 15, 2011. (R. 97-98.) Claimant requested and was granted a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") which took place on January 18, 2013. (R. 40-96, 113-14.) On February 1, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision finding Claimant not disabled and thus not entitled to DIB. (R. 16-35.) When the Appeals Council ("AC") denied review on April 10, 2014, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. (R. 1-6); Schomas v. Colvin, 732 F.3d 702, 707 (7th Cir. 2013). Claimant filed this action seeking judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).


         Claimant alleges that she has been disabled and unable to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity ("SGA") since March 3, 2008. (R. 175.) On January 10, 2008, Claimant arrived at St. Margaret Mary for a screening. (R. 289-92.) An examination of her chest and lungs returned normal results. (R. 289.) After her knees were examined, the attending physician noted no evidence of fracture or dislocation and found that Claimant has intact structures on both of her knees. (R. 290.) A screening of her lumbar spine returned normal results as well, and it was noted that she did not suffer from spondylolysis of the spine. (R. 291.)

         Claimant has also been treated at Oak Forest Hospital ("Oak Forest") since June 29, 2010. (R. 354.) She first was admitted to Oak Forest's emergency room on that date, due to increasing back pain and chest pains. (R. 340-44.) She was treated and a physical evaluation indicated that her heart, aorta, and lung fields were normal. (Id.) She was discharged in stable condition that same day, and was noted as "fe[eling] much better." (R. 341.) Claimant returned to the Oak Forest emergency room on September 28, 2010 due to congestion. (R. 345-48.) She was treated and again discharged in stable condition that same day. (R. 346.) Claimant again returned to Oak Forest on May 10, 2011 because she had a fainting episode. (R. 350.) An evaluation showed a normal heart and normal lungs. (Id.)

         On January 13, 2012, she had surgery on her right foot to remove a bunion and returned to Oak Forest throughout January and February 2012 for follow-up appointments. (R. 429-33, 435-36, 438-40, 443-45.) Claimant also complained of joint pains during her February 7, 2012 Oak Forest visit and was prescribed Naproxen. (R. 424-27.) She returned on February 23, 2012 because of recurrent major depressive symptoms. (R. 420-23.) The physical and mental examination performed at Oak Forest yielded normal results and she was advised to continue her medication plan of Trazadone, Wellbutrin, and Ambien. (R. 422.)

         On February 24, 2012, a CT scan of Claimant's cervical spine was taken and showed normal alignment but mild to moderate stenosis in certain areas of the spine. (R. 418.) During a follow-up appointment on March 30, 2012, it was noted that Claimant's depression was improving and she was again advised to continue with her medication. (R. at 406-09.) On July 12, 2012, Claimant reported to Oak Forest because she had not taken her medication for two weeks because she had finished the prescription. (R. 470-72.) She claimed to have feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, and anger. (R. 470.) Claimant stated during her evaluation that once she is back on her medication, she is less irritable and is able to sleep much better. (Id.)

         On August 6, 2012, Claimant likewise received an ultrasound at Oak Forest that showed abnormal results in her uterus and she was referred to a gynecologist. (R. 476.) On November, 19, 2012, during a follow-up appointment, Claimant was evaluated for abnormalities associated with endometriosis. (R. 452.) Another gynecologist appointment was advised. (Id.) On September 14, 2012, during a follow-up appointment, Claimant also complained of worsening vision. (R. 459-61.) She was diagnosed with glaucoma and instructed to return for a follow-up appointment. (R. 461.)

         Claimant also underwent other medical evaluations during this period. Claimant was evaluated by Dr. M.S. Patil of the Bureau of Disability Determination Services ("DDS") on May 23, 2011. (R. 359-63.) Dr. Patil's mental status examination resulted in generally normal and fair findings, except that Claimant may be somewhat hostile and guarded. (R. 361.) After a physical examination, Dr. Patil noted that Claimant had no obvious deformities of the spine. (Id.)

         On June 17, 2011, Claimant was seen by licensed psychologist Jeffrey Karr who noted that she did not exhibit physical problems or motor difficulties. (R. 367.) Mr. Karr concluded that during the exam, she did not show visible signs of physical distress, obvious cognitive problems, or gross psych op athology. (R. 369.)

         On July 12, 2011, Dr. Keith Burton also completed his Psychiatric Review Technique Form ("PRTF") for alleged affective disorders under 12.04 and substance addiction disorders under 12.09 of the listed impairments. (R. 370.) As far as functional limitations, Dr. Burton noted that Claimant would be mildly limited in her daily activities and her ability to maintain social functioning. (R. 380.) He opined that she would be moderately limited in maintaining concentration, persistence, and pace. (Id.) He concluded that the level and persistence of Claimant's condition is "partially credible" due to reports of her social interactions and daily activities. (R. 382.)

         Dr. Burton also completed a mental Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC") assessment and found Claimant to be moderately limited in the ability to understand, remember, and carry out detailed instructions. (R. 384-86.) He also found her moderately limited in her ability to complete a normal workday without interruptions, get along with coworkers without distraction, and respond appropriately to changes in the work setting. (R. 385.) Dr. Burton noted that while Claimant alleges disability due to depression, her medical records document a "single" instance of depression with treatment, and no other "gross cognitive problems" were suggested by the evidence. (R. 386.)

         Similarly, on July 14, 2011, Dr. David Mack conducted physical RFC assessment. (R. 388-95.) Dr. Mack established that Claimant could lift 50 pounds occasionally and 20 pounds frequently. (R. 389.) He found Claimant capable of standing, walking, and sitting for approximately six hours in an eight hour workday. (Id.) He found Claimant had unlimited ability to push and pull. (Id.) Dr. Mack also opined that Claimant had full motor strength and full range of motion, except that her lumbar spine flexibility was 70/90. (Id.) Her grip strength was 5/5 for both hands and she had normal gait, and could ambulate without an assistive device. (Id.) Dr. Mack ...

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