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Padour v. Berryhill

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

February 14, 2018

FRANK PADOUR, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, [1]Defendant.



         Frank Padour seeks a period of disability and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) based on his claim that he is disabled because of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pancreatic surgery, prostate cancer, poor eyesight, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (“COPD”). After the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denied his application, Padour filed this suit seeking judicial review. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Before the court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. For the following reasons, Padour's motion is denied and the government's is granted:

         Procedural History

         Padour filed his application for DIB on April 1, 2013, claiming a disability onset date of January 1, 2005. (Administrative Record (“A.R.”) 83.) After his claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration, (id. at 5-8), Padour sought and received a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) which took place on November 20, 2014, (id. at 37-81). On June 8, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision concluding that Padour is not disabled and therefore not entitled to DIB. (Id. at 25-32.) When the Appeals Council denied Padour's request for review, (id. at 1), the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner, see Minnick v. Colvin, 775 F.3d 929, 935 (7th Cir. 2015). Padour 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. 13).


         Following a nine-year career in professional golfing, Padour worked as a golf course manager from 1995 until 2001, after which he reported working part-time as a nightclub manager from 2003 until 2006. (A.R. 273.) Padour asserts that beginning in January 2005, at the age of 55, his health declined drastically and prevented him from working on a full-time basis. During the November 2014 hearing, Padour presented medical and testimonial evidence in support of his disability claim.

         A. Medical Evidence

         After complaints of shortness of breath, Padour had an echocardiogram in January 2005. (A.R. 451.) The medical record lists cigarette smoking as a risk factor, (id.), and Padour reported that he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years, (id. at 338). The test results showed no evidence of stress-induced myocardial ischemia and that Padour's left ventricular function was well preserved. (Id. at 453.) Padour was then treated for hypertension and COPD, which was noted as stable in March 2005. (Id. at 474.) Two months later in May 2005, Padour underwent a distal pancreatectomy and splenectomy to remove a benign cyst of the pancreas. (Id. at 507-33.) His physician's notes reveal that “there were no complications of this procedure.” (Id. at 509.) Following the surgery, Padour became a diabetic and began taking insulin. (Id. at 564.) By August 2005, Padour's hypertension was described as “well controlled.” (Id. at 475.) Later that month, Padour had an arterial exam because of a bilateral limping of his legs. (Id. at 483.) The exam revealed that blood circulation in his right leg was within normal limits, but his left leg showed signs of superficial femoral artery disease, infrapopliteal artery disease, and limping. (Id.) The following year in May 2006, Padour was diagnosed with prostate cancer. (Id. at 332.) He underwent a radical prostatectomy on June 12, 2006. (Id. at 363.) His physician's notes from June 2006 to April 2007 show that Padour had “no complaints” and was “comfortable and in no apparent distress.” (Id. at 340-57.)

         B. Padour's Hearing Testimony

         Padour described his symptoms and medical treatment at his November 2014 hearing. He testified that he became disabled on January 1, 2005, when his health began to decline rapidly. (A.R. 46-47.) Padour underwent pancreatic surgery that year, leading him to develop diabetes. (Id. at 51.) He explained that the surgery also caused him to experience pain in his feet and legs, which made it difficult to stand up, and that he would get tired immediately. (Id.) Padour testified that he developed COPD at some point and was later diagnosed with prostate cancer. (Id. at 47, 51.)

         When asked about his daily activities from January 2005 through December 2007, Padour testified that he did not work or socialize much and spent his time recovering from his surgeries. (Id. at 50.) He also noted that he did not smoke or drink during his recovery. (Id. at 49.) He stated that sometimes the pain would be so bad that he could not leave the house and that he moved his bedroom from upstairs to downstairs to have easier access to his backyard. (Id. at 54.)

         Regarding his work history, Padour testified that he had been a professional golfer for about 10 years, but lost interest in playing the game. (Id. at 49.) Over time he became more interested in the business side of golf and began leasing two golf course facilities from a county forest preserve in the late 1990s. (Id. at 42.) Padour testified that he was responsible for overseeing the golf courses, which included a golf shop and restaurant. (Id. at 43.) He also purchased golf equipment and supervised three to four employees. (Id.)

         From 2003 until 2006, Padour worked at a friend's nightclub two days a week. (Id. at 56.) He explained that this job was “a gift, ” and that he did not do much when he reported for work. (Id.) About a year before the hearing, Padour worked briefly for a golf store one day a week. (Id. at 42.) When asked why he waited until April 2013 to file for disability, Padour answered, “I didn't know you could do that.” (Id. at 47.) He thought he would have no problem finding another job because of his background in the golfing industry. (Id.) Padour further testified that even if he could have found a job during that time, it would have been difficult to work because he could not spend more than 15 to 20 minutes on his feet at one time and his doctors had restricted him from doing any lifting. (Id. at 52.)

         C. Medical Expert's Hearing Testimony

         Dr. Ashok Jilhewar, a medical expert (“ME”), testified at the hearing and opined about the limiting effects of Padour's impairments. The ME said that although Padour developed diabetes following his pancreatic surgery, the long-term complications are not the same as an individual who had developed the disease naturally. (A.R. 59.) He pointed out that Padour's medical record did not indicate “much of a follow up” in relation to the pancreatic cyst. (Id.) The ME did not find any record of recurrence of prostate cancer or any symptoms in relation to Padour's prostatectomy. (Id. at 61.) He noted that both Padour's pancreatic cyst and prostate cancer were documented for “significantly less than one year in the medical record.” (Id. at 67.) The ME explained that Padour's stress test revealed that he could walk for five minutes on the treadmill and the normal range for a person his age is seven minutes. (Id. at 65.) The ME further opined that Padour's most serious impairment during the time period ...

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