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Keller v. Colvin

United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 17, 2014

JENNIFER L. KELLER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

Mark J. Dinsmore United State Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff Jennifer Keller requests judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying her application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II and for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423(d), & 1382c(a)(3). For the reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the decision of the Commissioner be REVERSED AND REMANDED.

I. Procedural History

Keller filed an application for DIB and SSI on February 11, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of May 15, 2009. Keller’s applications were denied initially on May 11, 2010 and upon reconsideration on July 27, 2010. Keller requested a hearing which was held on August 3, 2011 before Administrative Law Judge Gregory Hamel (“ALJ”). The ALJ denied Keller’s applications on October 19, 2011. The Appeals Council denied Keller’s request for review on November 7, 2012, making the ALJ’s decision the final decision for purposes of judicial review. Plaintiff filed her Complaint with this Court on January 16, 2013.

II. Factual Background and Medical History

Jennifer Keller was 38 years old on the alleged onset date of disability. She has past relevant work experience as an office manager and payroll clerk and stopped working due to migraine headaches.

Keller was referred to neurologist Caryn Vogel, M.D. in October 2007 by her primary care physician Lisa Bledsoe, M.D. for treatment regarding her migraine headaches. At this initial examination, Dr. Vogel conducted a neurological examination during which Dr. Vogel found that Keller was able to carry on a complicated conversation with intact concentration, attention, speech and recall and that Keller had a relatively normal exam. Dr. Vogel also determined that there was no secondary cause for the headaches based on normal brain imaging and normal examination.

Keller continued to report to Drs. Vogel and Bledsoe regularly for complaints of severe migraines. Keller was started on many different medication regimens through 2010, none of which offered Keller much relief.

In February 2008, Keller reported getting a severe migraine about once every two weeks. Keller indicated that her headaches became worse with changes in the weather and can be associated with nausea and light and sound sensitivity. Keller was hospitalized in March 2008 for severe intractable headaches. She reported that she has some sort of headache every day which can be associated with light and sound sensitivity and nausea. Dr. Vogel expressed concern that her medication may be playing a role, if not exacerbating her migraines. In April 2008, Dr. Vogel concluded that there was definitely a component of medication overuse headache.[1]

In January 2009, Keller reported having some sort of headache constantly which can be so severe that she is unable to function due to the pain and light sensitivity. On examination, Dr. Vogel reported that Keller was able to carry on a complicated conversation. In March 2009, Keller reported that she was doing better with prescribed medication and Botox injections. Keller also described having visual auras of flashing moving lights.

After an examination in June 2009, Dr. Vogel found in her recommendations that she did not believe Keller was capable of working. Dr. Vogel also reiterated this in a letter to Keller’s insurance company for which Keller had applied for disability benefits. [R. at 237][2] In July 2009, Dr. Vogel wrote another letter to Keller’s insurance company opining that Keller could not sit for long periods of time, could not concentrate, and was unable to look at a computer screen. Dr. Vogel again reiterated that she did not believe that Keller would ever be able to return to work.

Keller was seen by Dr. Vogel in September 2009 for follow up on intractable migraine headaches, multiple medication failures, and possible medication overuse syndrome. On examination in September 2009, Dr. Vogel reported that Keller was able to carry on a complicated conversation with intact concentration and speech. Keller continued to report that she had some sort of headache every day. Vicodin controlled the headaches, but Keller indicated that it made her excessively tired. Dr. Vogel’s impression was that Keller had intractable headaches with multiple medication failures.

In April 2010, state agency physician M. Ruiz, M.D. completed a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment. Dr. Ruiz did not examine Keller. Dr. Ruiz opined that Keller did not have any exertional, postural, manipulative, visual, or communicative limitations.

However, Dr. Ruiz opined that Keller had environmental limitations and recommended that Keller avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, wetness, humidity, noise, vibration, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, poor ventilation, and hazards including machinery and heights as these may exacerbate Keller’s headaches. Dr. Ruiz further opined that Keller’s impairment did not meet or medically equal a listing. In ...


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