United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
D. Johnston United States Magistrate Judge.
2009, plaintiff George Martina developed back pain and
eventually stopped working. In 2011, he filed Title II and
Title XVI applications for disability benefits. On February
12, 2013, an administrative law judge (“ALJ”)
found that plaintiff was not disabled because he was capable
of doing light work. Plaintiff did not appeal that decision,
but filed new disability applications. These were considered
by a different ALJ who concluded, in October 2015, that
plaintiff was still capable of doing light work. However,
because plaintiff turned 55 on May 26, 2014, plaintiff
qualified as disabled, as of that date, under the grid rules.
This appeal concerns the finding that plaintiff was not
disabled during the 15-month period from the prior ALJ's
ruling, which was res judicata, until May 26, 2014.
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's analysis was flawed in
multiple ways. This Court finds that a remand is required,
primarily because the ALJ's credibility analysis.
relevant medical record, as identified by the parties and the
ALJ, covers the period from roughly May 2012 to May 2014.
23, 2012, plaintiff was treated by Christopher Parrett, a
chiropractor. Dr. Parrett (the label plaintiff uses) examined
plaintiff, performed several tests, and reviewed x-rays
showing that plaintiff had degenerative joint disease at
¶ 5 and C6. R. 308. Dr. Parrett recommended that
plaintiff start a “corrective care plan”
consisting of 3 visits a week for 12 weeks and also do home
exercises to stabilize his muscles. R. 308. It does not
appear that plaintiff followed through with these
recommendations, although he later saw Dr. Parrett several
more times. See R. 311 (June 21, 2012 visit); R. 312
(May 6, 2013 visit).
March 13, 2013, plaintiff treated with Dr. Kimberly Strange
at the Crusader Clinic. Dr. Strange performed a physical
examination, and recommended that plaintiff start taking a
Diclofenac Sodium Tablet for the back pain and also start
home exercises. R. 297. An interpretation of an x-ray taken the
same day stated the following: “Disc space heights
vertebral body heights and alignment are normal. Multilevel
facet arthrosis. Severe atherosclerotic calcification of the
abdominal aorta and iliacs.” R. 301.
8, 2013, plaintiff saw Dr. Kimberly Miller at the Crusader
Clinic. Plaintiff reported that the Diclofenac did not help
his back pain, that he was continuing to see the
chiropractor, that he was continuing to use Ibuprofen and
Tylenol, and that he wanted a prescription for a cane. R.
295. Dr. Miller examined plaintiff and recommended that he
continue his current care and that he try physical therapy
and “possible further imaging.” Id. At
plaintiff's request, she issued a prescription for the
cane. R. 322.
28, 2013, Dr. Parrett completed a four-page “Physical
Medical Source Statement” in which he opined, among
other things, that plaintiff could sit, stand, or walk each
for less than two hours in an eight-hour workday. R. 325.
August 15, 2013, plaintiff was examined by Dr. Ramchandani, a
consultative examiner. He noted, among other things, that
plaintiff had a normal gait and was “able to walk
unassisted for 50 feet.” R. 314. He diagnosed plaintiff
with “[a]rthralgia of lumbar spine secondary to
arthritis.” R. 315.
August 28, 2013, plaintiff was interviewed by Dr. John
Peggau, a consultative examiner. He diagnosed plaintiff with
alcohol use disorder, in remission; unspecified bipolar
disorder; and unspecified personality disorder. R. 319.
March 18, 2014, plaintiff had a CT lumbar scan. The report
gave the following conclusion: “No discrete disc
herniation seen at any lumbar level, however degenerative
changes are resulting in bilateral foraminal stenosis at
¶ 4-5, right worse than left.” R. 349. On March
24, 2014, plaintiff was examined by Dr. Syed Hassan who
suggested that plaintiff seek a surgery referral and apply a
lidocaine patch every 12 hours. R. 356.
April 16, 2014, plaintiff was seen by Dr. Brian Braaksma who
examined plaintiff and reviewed four x-rays. He diagnosed
plaintiff with degenerative disc disease and facet
arthropathy, and recommended that plaintiff enroll in
“a course of physical therapy for core
strengthening” and that he take Mobic for six weeks. He
also suggested an MRI to “rule out
neurocompression.” R. 337.
saw Dr. Braaksma again on May 23, 2014. Plaintiff reported
that his back pain was about the same, rating it 3/10 at rest
and 10/10 while active. Plaintiff stated that he was not
taking any pain medications and was not doing physical
therapy. R. 333. Dr. Braaksma told plaintiff that there was
no surgical option available and encouraged plaintiff to
“pursue an exhaustive course of conservative care,
” including physical therapy. R. 334.
hearing was held on September 17, 2015. Plaintiff and a
vocational expert ...