United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Michael T. Mason, United States Magistrate Judge:
Joseph Hall (“Claimant”) seeks judicial review of
a final decision of Defendant, the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (“SSA”), denying his
claim for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). The Commissioner has filed a
cross-motion for summary judgment, asking that this Court
uphold the decision of the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). For the reasons set forth below,
Claimant's request for summary judgment is granted 
and the Commissioner's request for summary judgment 
February 4, 2013, Claimant (then 65 years old) filed a Title
II DIB application, alleging a disability onset date of June
26, 2012, due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage, stroke,
headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. (R. 100.) Claimant's
date last insured was March 31, 2013. (Id.) His
application for benefits was denied initially on May 7, 2013
and again upon reconsideration on September 11, 2013. (R.
99-121.) An administrative hearing was held before an ALJ on
November 14, 2014. (R. 32-98.) Claimant appeared along with
his attorney. A vocational expert and medical expert were
also present and offered testimony.
January 6, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
Claimant's application for benefits. (R. 18-27.) Claimant
then requested review by the Appeals Council. (R. 14.) On
June 2, 2016, the Appeals Council denied his request for
review, at which time the ALJ's decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner. (R. 1-6); Zurawski v.
Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 883 (7th Cir. 2001). This action
26, 2012, after complaining of a headache the day before,
Claimant was found unconscious by his wife. (R. 359.) He was
taken to the ER and eventually transported to the University
of Illinois Hospital where it was determined that he suffered
a subarachnoid hemorrhage of the brain of unknown origin, and
hydrocephalus. (R. 424, 430.) Claimant was treated with
Keppra for seizure prevention, and an external ventricular
drain was placed for treatment of hydrocephalus. (R. 430.)
While at the hospital, Claimant complained of increased
headaches and confusion. (R. 397-98.) Claimant was discharged
after about two weeks in the hospital and advised to
follow-up with his primary care provider, Dr. Gerald Frank.
(Id.) It was also recommended that Claimant undergo
outpatient cognitive rehabilitation to address his mild to
moderate cognitive impairments. (R. 451.)
after his discharge, Claimant began speech therapy to address
cognitive issues, such as short term memory, attention,
executive functioning, and visuospatial skills. (R. 322.) At
some sessions he reported problems with memory and headaches,
while at other times he was “doing well” or had
“no complaints.” (R. 330, 337, 339, 341, 357.) He
was discharged from speech therapy in October 2012 after
demonstrating significant improvement. (R. 322.) At that
time, he was able to drive, but his return to work date had
been extended due to the need for additional physical therapy
to improve endurance. (Id.)
also followed up with his primary care physician Dr. Frank
about once a month from July 2012 through December 2012. (R.
310-18.) At each visit, Claimant complained of headaches, and
at times he complained of fatigue and dizziness.
(Id.) As of December 2012, Dr. Frank completed
paperwork indicating that Claimant could not yet return to
work due to his headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. (R. 321.)
the same time frame, Claimant was being treated by
neurosurgeon Dr. Jonathon Citow. On September 28, 2012,
Claimant complained of fatigue, mild headaches, and slow
ambulation. (R. 299.) A physical exam was normal.
(Id.) In contrast to Dr. Frank's opinion around
this time, Dr. Citow indicated that Claimant could return to
full duty work. (Id.) Dr. Citow did recommend
physical therapy for gait training and prescribed Celebrex in
place of Vicodin. (Id.) At that time, Claimant was
also taking medication for high blood pressure and
cholesterol, as well as anti-seizure medication.
returned to see Dr. Citow in November 2012 and reported
improvement with physical therapy, but stated that further
therapy was recommended. (R. 301.) He had discontinued
Celebrex due to dizziness, which had since improved.
(Id.) A physical exam showed a full range of motion
and was otherwise normal. (Id.) In addition to
headaches, Dr. Citow assessed lumbar spondylosis.
(Id.) He also recommended further physical therapy.
(Id.) Claimant had been discharged from physical
therapy by January 2013 and reported no significant back
pain. (R. 303.) His dizziness continued to improve.
(Id.) A physical exam was normal and Dr. Citow
advised that Claimant could continue full activities.
continued to see Dr. Frank throughout 2013 and 2014. (R. 311,
519-21, 529-40.) He consistently complained of headaches,
fatigue, lightheadedness, and difficulties sleeping.
(Id.) In July 2013, Dr. Frank referred Claimant to
neurologist, Dr. Reuben Weisz. (R. 522.) Claimant told Dr.
Weisz he had suffered intermittent, but daily headaches since
his brain hemorrhage, which made him feel like his
“head will explode.” (R. 523.) Tramadol and
Ibuprofen had helped to ease his headaches. (R. 524.)
Claimant said that his memory and ability to concentrate had
suffered. (R. 523-24.) Upon physical examination Claimant
exhibited a shuffling gait, and normal, but slow motor
abilities. (R. 524.) A mental exam was within normal limits,
except for “slowing.” (Id.) Dr. Weisz
assessed chronic daily headaches, possible amyloid
angiopathy, and possible cervical spondylosis with
cervicogenic headaches. (R. 525.) The MRIs ordered by Dr.
Weisz showed small vessel disease and mild to moderate
degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine. (R. 511-12.)
An EEG was normal. (R. 513.)
follow-up in August 2013, Claimant reported that Tramadol and
Ibuprofren continued to help with his headache pain. (R.
526.) The results of a physical and mental status examination
remained unchanged from the previous visit. (Id.)
Dr. Weisz assessed “mixed-type headaches, chronic
daily, but predominantly muscle tension with cervicogenic
component.” (Id.) Claimant was to continue
with medication. (Id.)
was doing better until October 2013, when his headaches
worsened. (R. 559.) Dr. Weisz prescribed Fioricet, which had
to be increased a few months later when his daily headaches
continued. (R. 559-60.) At that time, Dr. Weisz noted limited
range of motion of the cervical spine. (R. 560.) As of March
2014, Claimant still suffered daily headaches. (R. 561.) His
medication dosage was increased again and in June 2014, he
reported that his headaches had greatly subsided. (R.
561-62.) He was also diagnosed with obstructive sleep ...