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Delaney v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

June 13, 2018

MEGAN MARIE DELANEY, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          OPINION

          TOM SCHANZLE-HASKINS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Megan Marie Delaney appeals from the denial of her application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (collectively Disability Benefits). 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423, 1381a and 1382c. This appeal is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c). Delaney filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 13). The Defendant Commissioner filed a Motion for Summary Affirmance (d/e 16). The parties consented to proceed before this Court. Consent to the Exercise of Jurisdiction by a United States Magistrate and Reference Order entered May 18, 2017 (d/e 9). For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Defendant Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         Delaney was born November 3, 1986. She completed about two years of college. She previously worked as a school bus monitor, general farm worker, and food service manager. She last worked in June 2012 at a Dollar General store as a cashier. Delaney suffers from type 1 insulin dependent diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, affective disorder, and anxiety. Certified Transcript of Proceedings before the Social Security Administration (d/e 11) (R.), 17, 28, 44, 705.

         On April 28, 2012, Delaney went to the emergency room at Memorial Hospital in Taylorville, Illinois (Taylorville Hospital). Delaney had multiple skin infections. The emergency room physician noted, "She states that her sugars have been 200 recently and she is not really following a diet or doing what she is supposed to do although she does seem to know the risks." The physician "spent a significant amount of time discussing the risks of diabetes and encouraging her to follow the appropriate diet." R. 551. The emergency room physician prescribed antibiotics for her infections, encouraged her to follow an appropriate diabetic regimen, and discharged her. R. 552.

         On May 16, 2012 Delaney was admitted to St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Illinois (St. John's). Delaney did not know the insulin dose prescribed to her. Over the next two days, the doctors adjusted her insulin dose until she had a consistent blood sugar reading under 200 with not low blood sugar events. She was discharged on May 19, 2012. R. 614-15.

         On May 29, 2012, Delaney went to St. John's, but left against medical advice. R. 640. On May 30, 2012, Delaney went to the emergency room at Taylorville Hospital with low blood sugar. She was given Glucagon and transferred to St. John's Hospital for observation and continued monitoring of her blood sugar. R. 544. She was admitted to St. John's and discharged on June 2, 2012 with a diabetic diet and a prescription for insulin. R. 640.

         On June 22, 2012, Delaney went to the emergency room at Taylorville Hospital with low blood sugar. Her diabetes was poorly controlled. She had not eaten that day and collapsed. She was given dextrose and became awake and alert. R. 543.

         On January 25, 2013, Delaney saw Dr. Zulfiqar Hashim, M.D., for diabetic neuropathy. R. 833-35. Delaney reported "pins and needle" sensations in her lower extremities. On examination, Delaney was negative for dizziness, extremity weakness, headache, numbness in extremities, and tremors. Delaney also showed no loss of light touch and vibration sensation in her lower extremities. R. 835. Dr. Hashim prescribed Neurontin (gabapentin). R. 833.

         On May 17, 2013, Delaney saw Dr. Madhumita Banga, M.D., for a follow up on her diabetes. R. 830-32. Her diabetes was uncontrolled at the time. The Neurontin was not fully controlling her neuropathy. Dr. Banga advised her that strict glycemic control was necessary for neuropathy pain control. R. 830.

         On July 20, 2013, Delaney went to America's Best Contacts & Eyeglasses for an eye examination. R. 605-06. Her corrected visual acuity was 20/40 in the right eye and 20/70 in the left. The optometrist referred Delaney to a retina specialist. R. 606.

         On September 27, 2013, Delaney saw Dr. Banga for her diabetes. R. 826-29. Her diabetes was uncontrolled. Dr. Banga increased her insulin dosages. R. 826.

         On December 4, 2013, Delaney saw a retina specialist at the Washington University School of Medicine Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences Department. She reported "smudgy vision with floating lines since September 2013. Her corrected vision was 20/40 in the right and 20/60 in the left. R. 688. On December 12, 2013, ophthalmologist Dr. Chin Yee, M.D., performed a Panretinal Photocoagulation (PRP) on Delaney to limit the effects of diabetic retinopathy. The procedure involved burning parts of the retina with lasers. R. 696. Dr. Yee repeated the PRP procedure on December 19, 2013 and January 2, 2014. R. 694-95.

         On February 20, 2014, Delaney returned to Washington University for intravitreal injections. At that time, her corrected visual acuity was 20/50 in the right eye and 20/60 in the left. R. 693. On March 26, 2014, Delaney went to Washington University for intravitreal injections. At that time, her corrected visual acuity was 20/50 in the right eye and 20/60 in the left. R. 692.

         On April 9, 2014, Delaney saw state agency physician Dr. Vittal Chapa, M.D., for a consultative examination. R. 698-701. Dr. Chapa noted that Delaney had documented diabetic retinopathy in both eyes. Delaney's corrected visual acuity was 20/50 in the right eye with pinhole acuity of 20/70, and 20/70 in the left eye with pinhole acuity of 20/70. Her visual fields were normal on gross confrontation. R. 698.

         On April 10, 2014, Delaney saw state agency psychologist Dr. Dolores Trello, Psy.D., for a mental status examination. R. 704-08. Delaney reported that she had social anxiety all of her life. She said she felt anxious around people. Delaney also reported that she was depressed. She said she went through depression after her miscarriage in June 2013. She reported having trouble sleeping. She took Benadryl over-the-counter to help her sleep, but did not take any other medication for her mental condition. R. 705.

         Delaney reported that she had two friends and a boyfriend. She said that she went to a lake often and liked to sit around a fire. She said that she liked to draw and make jewelry. She said she depended on her parents for emotional support. Delaney said that she could cook, do laundry, and perform household chores. She could drive. R. 706.

         Dr. Trello noted that Delaney's concentration was good. Her immediate, recent, and remote memory was intact. Dr. Trello assessed major depressive disorder, recurrent of moderate severity, social anxiety, panic attacks without agoraphobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. R. 707.

         On May 19, 2014, Delaney saw state agency optometrist Dr. Chelsey Moore, O.D., for a consultative eye examination. R. 711-15. She reported receiving injections in her eyes to help with the diabetic macular edema. She reported that she was forced to quit work due to vision decline. R. 711. On examination, Delaney had corrected visual acuity of 20/30 in the right eye and 20/40 in the left, with no pinhole improvement. R. 712. Delaney's confrontation visual fields were full. She had no cataracts. The fundoscopic examination showed scars on the retina from the PRP treatments. Visual field testing showed mild superior defect in the right eye and moderate superior defect in the left, attributed to the PRP treatments. Dr. Moore concluded that Delaney had "a couple of areas of mild decreased visual field areas, but would not hinder Claimant in activities of daily living." R. 713.

         Dr. Moore assessed proliferative diabetic retinopathy post PRP treatments "to prevent retinal tears/breaks/detachments in future, " and a history of macular retinal edema treated with injections to prevent further vision damage. Dr. Moore opined that Delaney was at great risk of losing her vision due to her uncontrolled diabetes. Dr. Moore recommended continuing to follow care instructions from the Washington University physicians, driving only during the daytime in familiar locations, continue wearing glasses, but not contact lenses. Dr. Moore also opined that, "a hand held magnifying glass may help near vision." R. 713.

         On May 29, 2014, state agency physician Dr. Charles Kenney, M.D., prepared a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment. R. 121-23. Dr. Kinney opined that Delaney had no physical functional limitations. Dr. Kenney opined that Delaney's visual limitations would not affect her ability to work. R. 122.

         Delaney continued to have monthly injections in her eyes from May 2014 through January 2016. R. 850-51, 853, 855, 857, 863-869, 875, 924-28.

         On February 26, 2015, Delaney saw state agency physician Dr. Hima Atluri, M.D., for consultative examination. R. 845-49. Delaney reported that she was following her diabetic regimen and, "[s]ince almost 2011 to now" she has had "no diabetic ketoacidosis, and no hypoglycemic reactions." R. 845. On examination, her corrected visual acuity was 20/50 in the right eye and 20/40 in the left, both with or without pinhole. R. 847.

         On March 4, 2015, her corrected visual acuity was 20/50 in the right eye and 20/60 in the left. R. 851.

         On March 16, 2015, Delaney saw state agency psychologist, Dr. Stephen Vincent, Ph.D., for a mental status examination. R. 888-91. Delaney reported, "[S]he has tried to work as a cashier at Dollar General, but stopped secondary to a history of interacting with co-workers and supervisors, as well as episodes of sudden onset of intense fear and panic episodes related to interacting with the general public." R. 888. She reported having anxiety when she had to leave her home. She was prescribed clonazepam for the anxiety. She took the medication when she knew she was leaving her home. She said she had "episodes of sudden onset of intense fear, particularly when she is outside of her 'comfort zone, ' with symptoms that include fear of losing control, dizziness and lightheadedness, chest pain, discomfort, shortness of breath, tightness around her throat, trembling and shaking and episodes of accelerated heart rate." R. 888-89. She reported that she lived with her boyfriend. She also reported that she liked to paint, read, and care for her dog, "which she finds therapeutic." R. 889. Dr. Vincent assessed generalized anxiety disorder; panic disorder, with agoraphobic features; and social anxiety disorder. Dr. Vincent stated that cognitively, she was intact. R. 891.

         On April 2, 2015, state agency physician Dr. James Hinchen, M.D., prepared a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment. R. 139-42. Dr. Hinchen opined that Delaney could frequently lift ten pounds and occasionally lift 20 pounds; stand and/or walk about six hours in an eight-hour workday; sit about six hours in an eight-hour workday; occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb ropes, ladders, and scaffolds; and occasionally balance. Dr. Hinchen also opined that Delaney should avoid concentrated exposures to vibration and hazards. Dr. Hinchen opined that Delaney was not functionally limited by her impaired vision. R. 140-41.

         On April 29, 2015, Delaney went to see endocrinologist Dr. Anju Gurung, M.D., for uncontrolled type 1 diabetes. Delaney reported that she missed taking her Lantus insulin 1-2 times per week and missed taking her Humalog insulin 1-2 times per day. She also did not eat three meals a day. She often skipped breakfast. She also ate snacks during the day. Her lunches and dinners usually included 60 grams of carbohydrates. Her meter showed blood sugar readings of 232-330 in the mornings, 200s-300s at lunchtime and suppertime, with some readings in 400s-500s when she ate chocolates and cookies. R. 993. Dr. Gurung adjusted her insulin dosages, instructed her to eat three meals a day without snacks, and referred her to a dietician to learn to count carbohydrates. R. 996.

         On June 16, 2015, Delaney underwent a consultative examination by optometrist Dr. Ronald Weingart, O.D. R. 894-905. Delaney reported to Dr. Weingart that she regularly bumped into walls and tripped over unseen objects on the floor. She said that she easily lost her balance and periodically fell. She reported that she had to use railings and walls to guide her movement. She said that she held onto friends or family members to walk outside, especially at dusk. R. 894. Delaney reported that she could not read cooking ingredients or recipes. She said she could not tell if a meal was fully cooked. Delaney reported that she lost her cashier job "after a blood vessel burst inside her in 2013 preventing her from being able to read credit card numbers." R. 894.

         Dr. Weingart said Delaney had poor depth perception and had lost much of her peripheral vision. R. 895. Dr. Weingart opined:

Ms. Delaney experiences difficulty while walking, reading, reading cooking instructions, and preparing a meal. She is unable to locate and maintain an occupation, as well as, ...

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