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Underwood v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

March 29, 2018

SCOT E. UNDERWOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

          OPINION

          Richard Mills United States District Judge

         This is an action for judicial review of a final administrative decision denying Social Security disability benefits to Plaintiff Scot E. Underwood. Pending are the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and the Defendant's Motion for Summary Affirmance.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Scott E. Underwood, who was born in 1967, filed for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income in 2009, alleging he had been disabled since June 15, 2009. The Plaintiff graduated from high school. He was in the special education program because he could not read or write. The Plaintiff testified he still is unable to read and write. He also is unable to perform basic math and cannot make change. He has work experience as a car detailer.

         Following a hearing, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Diane Raese Flebbe issued a decision on March 15, 2003, finding that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform a reduced range of light work. The ALJ found that jobs accommodating the Plaintiff's limitations existed in significant numbers in the local and national economy and Plaintiff, therefore, was not disabled.

         The Appeals Council denied the Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         II. FACTS

         A. Medical Evidence

         The Plaintiff has a history of back problems, including kyphosis of his cervical and thoracic spine and degenerative changes of his cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine. X-rays showed a “great deal of” degenerative changes at ¶ 4-5 and at the midparts of the thoracic and lumbar spine. Dr. David Mack recommended vocational school, where the Plaintiff could learn to perform work not involving a lot of bending and lifting.

         On September 30, 2009, the Plaintiff underwent a consultative examination with Vittal Chapa, M.D. The neurological examination was normal and motor examination revealed no specific weakness or muscle atrophy.

         On October 6, 2009, state agency medical consultant Sandra Bilinsky, M.D., reviewed the medical evidence of record and opined that Plaintiff could perform light exertional work with postural and manipulative limitations. On December 2, 2009, state agency medical consultant Towfig Arjmand, M.D. affirmed that opinion.

         On September 23, 2011, the Plaintiff underwent another consultative examination with Dr. Chapa. His gait and neurological examination were normal. He had full range of motion in all joints and a negative straight leg raising test. He was diagnosed with chronic lumbosacral pain syndrome and history of pulmonary embolus.

         On May 20, 2011, the Plaintiff was seen for intake at Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois and was started on Celexa. On June 20, 2011, the Plaintiff sought emergency treatment for suicidal ideation after an attempted overdose. He reported a depressed mood but did not think he belonged in the psychiatric unit. He had been depressed because his physical impairments rendered him unable to do the activities he usually did. There was no definite diagnosis. He was assigned a Global Assessment of Functioning of 45 to 50 and was sent home and prescribed Trazadone.

         On June 24, 2011, the Plaintiff reported not taking any medication and that Celexa did not work. He denied suicidal ideation but reported feeling depressed and sleeping less. He began taking Prozac but the next month reported it made him more suicidal.

         In August 2011, the Plaintiff reported that Wellbutrin caused him to have nightmares. Trazadone did not help him sleep. The Plaintiff was prescribed paroxetine and advised to see a psychiatrist.

         On October 5, 2011, the Plaintiff underwent a psychological evaluation with Stephen G. Vincent, Ph.D. He reported a history of depression and minimal response to various antidepressants; he had not taken any medications in two months. He reported anxiety, guilt, hopelessness and irritability. His memory was intact and he denied alcohol and drug problems. He had no difficulties relating to the ...


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