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White v. Saul

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

December 27, 2019

RHONDA WHITE, as successor to Carl R. White, Deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          OPINION

          TOM SCHANZLE-HASKINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Rhonda White, as successor to her late husband Carl R. White (White), deceased, appeals from the denial of White's application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (Disability Benefits) under Title II of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i) and 423. This appeal is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         White applied for Disability Benefits on September 28, 2015. Certified Transcript of Proceedings before the Social Security Administration (d/e 13 (R.) 81. White filed a previous application for Disability Benefits. The prior application was denied on May 10, 2012. R. 266. In the current application, White alleged that he became disabled on April 30, 2011 (“Onset Date”). R. 67, 83. 206.[2] The last date he was insured for Disability Benefits was June 30, 2013 (“Date Last Insured” or “DLI”). White was required to establish that he was disabled on or before the Date Last Insured. 20 C.F.R. § 404.320(b)(2)

         After his Date Last Insured, White suffered three strokes in 2014 and 2015. His wife Rhonda White was appointed his guardian on January 19, 2016. R. 33, 175. White died on January 19, 2019. Death Certificate (d/e 10). Rhonda White was substituted in as the proper party plaintiff in this case. Text Order entered March 13, 2019; Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(a)(1). Rhonda White filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (d/e 15). The Defendant Commissioner filed a Motion for Summary Affirmance (d/e 18). For the reasons set forth below, the Decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

         STATEMENT OF FACTS

         White was born on November 7, 1955. He completed high school. He previously worked as a self-employed construction contractor. R. 216. He last worked in 2008. R. 205, 269. He stopped working because of the economic downturn in 2008. R. 216. On or before June 30, 2013, White suffered from diabetes mellitus, obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, peripheral neuropathy, and kidney disease status post renal cancer and partial left nephrectomy.[3] R. 67, 81, 83-84, 87, 206. On February 18, 2005, White underwent a left partial nephrectomy for low-grade conventional clear cell carcinoma of the left kidney. R. 894.

         On January 22, 2008, Carl White had blood tests. The results showed blood urea nitrogen level (BUN) at 33, creatinine at 1.48, and estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) at 50. R. 380. Normal BUN is 9-21, normal creatinine is 0.7-1.3, and normal GFR is 60-120. E.g., R. 571, 573.

         On February 14, 2008, White saw Dr. Andrew Bourne, M.D., for a follow up on his cancer surgery. R. 894-95. On examination, White was obese. Otherwise, he was in no acute distress, alert, and oriented. White's lab test results showed glucose at 118, BUN at 21 and creatinine at 1.3. Normal glucose is 75-110. E.g., R. 573. Otherwise, his liver functions were within normal limits. X-rays and ultrasound showed cardiomegaly but no other remarkable results.[4] Dr. Bourne concluded that White had a “good oncologic outcome.” Dr. Bourne planned to see White in a year. R. 894.

         On February 27, 2008, White saw Dr. Amit S. Date, M.D., for a follow up appointment after a sleep study. R. 893. The study showed severe sleep apnea. The study also showed that White significantly improved with the use of a BiPAP machine while sleeping.[5] White reported that after sleeping with the BiPAP machine, he was not as tired during the day and his mood improved. White decided to use the BiPAP machine and to lose weight. On examination, White was 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighed 332 pounds, with a body mass index (BMI) of 44.5. R. 893.

         On November 4, 2008, White had blood tests. The results showed glucose at 68, potassium at 4.8, BUN at 25, creatinine at 1.5, and GFR at 52. R. 380.

         On February 19, 2009, White had blood tests. The results showed glucose at 121, potassium at 4.4, BUN at 28, creatinine at 1.56, and GFR at 47. R. 365-66.

         On February 18, 2010, White had blood tests. The results showed glucose at 147, potassium at 4.4, BUN at 26, creatinine at 1.3, and GFR at 58. R. 369.

         On June 10, 2010, White's lab results showed an A1C diabetes test result of 9.5. A normal A1C is 4.2 to 6.5. R. 373.

         On March 31, 2011, White saw Dr. William Yu, M.D., for his annual physical examination. R. 540-42. White complained of abdominal pain in the right upper quadrant radiating to the left flank. R. 540. White weighed 335 pounds with a BMI of 48.07. On examination, White had an abnormal gait, but normal movement of his extremities and normal muscle tone and strength. R. 541. Blood test results showed glucose at 365, potassium at 5.5, BUN at 34, creatinine at 2.53, and GFR at 34. R. 574, 580. Dr. Yu referred White for an ultrasound for his abdominal pain. R.542.

         On April 29, 2011, White had his gallbladder removed. R. 392. Blood tests showed glucose at 350, BUN at 48, creatinine at 3.9, and potassium at 7.0. The results indicated that the potassium level was critical. R. 397. When White arrived at home after the gallbladder surgery, he felt weakness in his legs and almost fell. R. 393.

         The next day, on April 30, 2011, White was admitted to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois (Memorial), for acute renal failure. R. 393. Blood tests showed potassium at 7.6, glucose at 134, BUN at 52, and creatinine at 4.0. R. 466. White saw Dr. Pradeep Mehta, M.D., on a consult on his acute renal failure. Dr. Mehta placed White on dialysis. R. 404-05. After dialysis, on May 1, 2011, White's potassium dropped to 4.9 in normal ranges; BUN dropped to 29; and creatinine dropped to 2.8. White's glucose was 134. R. 467. On May 2, 2011, White's potassium stayed normal at 4.5; his glucose was 164, his BUN was 37, and his creatinine was 3.1. R. 468. On May 3, 2011, White's potassium stayed normal at 4.4, his glucose was 203, his BUN was 31, and his creatinine was 2, 8. R. 469. White was taken off his diabetes medications and started on insulin. He was also put on blood pressure medication. He was discharged in stable condition on May 3, 2011. R. 393.

         On May 20, 2011, White saw Dr. Yu for follow up after hospitalization and to repeat blood tests. R. 535. The blood test results showed potassium at 5.1, glucose at 246, BUN at 41, creatinine at 2.85, and GFR at 23. R. 571, 573. On examination, White had normal strength, sensation, gait, and movement of extremities. Dr. Yu started White on daily insulin and sent the lab results to Dr. Lawrence Smith, M.D., at the Central Illinois Kidney & Dialysis Association in Springfield, Illinois. R. 539; see R. 498.

         On May 26, 2011, White saw Dr. Smith, M.D. His creatinine level had stabilized in the 2.5-2.8 range. White had switched to insulin for his diabetes medications. On examination, White had some edema in his lower extremities. His lab results from May 20, 2011 showed potassium at 5.1 and creatinine at 2.8. Dr. Smith assessed that White had stable potassium parameters after the April 30, 2011 dialysis. Dr. Smith assessed mild edema. Dr. Smith emphasized staying on a no added salt diet. R. 498.

         On June 15, 2011, White saw Dr. Yu for blood tests and follow up on his kidney disease. White reported that he felt “ok.” R. 535. Blood tests showed potassium at 4.4, glucose at 207, GFR of 29, creatinine at 2.36, and BUN at 33. R. 566, 570. On examination, White's gait and station were normal; his joints, bones, and muscles were normal; and his reflexes and sensation were normal. R. 536. Dr. Yu directed that the lab results be sent to Dr. Smith. R. 537.

         On June 21, 2011, White saw Dr. Smith. White looked well at the appointment. On examination, White had bilateral edema in the lower extremities. His potassium was 4.4 and his creatinine was 2.3. Dr. Smith assessed probable underlying diabetic nephropathy. R. 497, 979.

         On the same day, June 21, 2011, White completed a Function Report-Adult form. R. 223-30.[6] White said he could not work because he became dizzy and weak in his legs and arms. R. 223. White said he spent a typical day doing housework, watching television, and going to the doctor. White said he could take care of his personal care. R. 224. He prepared sandwiches and small meals on a daily basis. He loaded the dishwasher and laundry machines, and made small household repairs. R. 225. He went outside every day and shopped once a week for about an hour. R. 226. He went to the homes of others to socialize. R. 227. He said that his impairments limited his ability to lift, stand, walk, kneel, and climb stairs. He said he finished what he started, and he could follow written and spoken instructions. He said that he got along with authority figures. R. 229.

         On July 26, 2011, White saw Dr. Yu for recheck of his diabetes. White said that his blood sugars were running high. White had an abscess behind the right ear that would not heal. R. 532. Blood tests showed potassium at 4.9, glucose at 305, GFR at 36, creatinine at 1.96, and BUN at 29. R. 563-64. On examination, White's gait and station were normal; his bones, joints, and muscles were normal; and his reflexes and sensation were normal. R. 533. Dr. Yu prescribed Augmentin for the abscess and noted that White's insulin dosage would probably need to be increased. R. 534

         On September 12, 2011, White had blood tests. The tests showed potassium at 4.8, glucose at 149, GFR at 37, creatinine at 1.9, and BUN at 28. R. 738-39.

         On September 19, 2011, White saw Dr. Ashraf Tamizuddin, M.D., at the Central Illinois Kidney & Dialysis Association. White reported that he felt well. He reported occasional ankle swelling. His lab results showed BUN at 28, creatinine at 1.9, potassium at 4.8, and GFR at 37. Dr. Tamizuddin assessed stage IV chronic kidney disease with progressive improvement in creatinine after the acute renal failure on April 30, 2011. Dr. Tamizuddin stated that White was stable from a nephrology perspective. Dr. Tamizuddin recommended that White lose weight. R. 496.

         On November 2, 2011, White saw Dr. Yu. White reported that an alarm on his BiPAP machine was going off constantly at night and interfered with his sleep. White reported that he was having daytime sleepiness. White reported increasing problems with numbness and tingling in his feet. He reported increasing problems standing and walking. He also reported joint pain and stiffness. R. 528. On examination, White's gait and ...


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