United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
Richard N. Raducha, Plaintiff,
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN, District Judge.
Plaintiff Richard N. Raducha seeks judicial review of the final decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, who denied his application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits under the Social Security Act. For the following reasons, the Court affirms the decision of the Administrative Law Judge.
A. Procedural Background
Plaintiff applied for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits in 2010, alleging disability beginning on February 20, 2010. (R. at 11.) His claim was denied initially, as well as upon reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (R. at 102-193.) His hearing was held before ALJ Henry Kramzyk. On February 6, 2012, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not been disabled as defined in the Social Security Act from his alleged onset date through the date of the ALJ's decision. (R. at 22.) The ALJ's opinion became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 12, 2013. (R. at 1-3.)
B. Factual Background
(1) Plaintiff's Background and Testimony
Plaintiff was born on December 6, 1958. (R. at 86.) His highest level of education is a GED. (R. at 35.) Since the alleged onset date of February, 20, 2010, Plaintiff's only income was unemployment benefits, which he received for nine months after being terminated from his job as a building maintenance worker. (R. at 36-38.) Plaintiff worked in building maintenance for about one year. (R. at 38.)
Previously, in 2004, Plaintiff was self-employed, performing building maintenance for about one year. (R. at 38-39.) He lifted up to 250 pounds and spent a great deal of time on his knees, rarely sitting. (R. at 40.) In 2002, Plaintiff worked at P & R Stevens Electric for about one year, performing maintenance on car wash machines. (R. at 40-41.) He lifted up to 250 pounds and stood five to six hours a day. (R. at 42.) He spent another three and a half hours driving. ( Id. ) Plaintiff also previously performed gas station and car wash maintenance for Ridgeway Petroleum. ( Id. ) He built and maintained a car wash for an employer named Nicholas Lombardi for one year, and did similar work for 3G Enterprises beginning in 1998, and lasting for six years. (R. at 44-45.) At 3G Enterprises, Plaintiff lifted up to 250 pounds, stood for approximately six hours every day, and spent two hours driving. (R. at 45.)
Plaintiff claimed his disability began February 20, 2010, soon after he was fired from his job as a maintenance worker, and when he began having severe health problems. (R. at 37-38.) Plaintiff testified that pain in his legs, ankles and back kept him from working. (R. at 45-46.) On March 16, 2011, Plaintiff suffered a heart attack. (R. at 1129.) Plaintiff testified that he has cysts in his ankles and knees and that he has had back problems since falling off of a ladder in 2005 (R. at 46-48.) Plaintiff attributes this accident to the loss of a kidney and diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2008. (R. at 48.) Plaintiff suffers from chronic kidney disease as a result of this fall, as well as severe stress incontinence. (R. at 63.) Plaintiff also testified that he sees a therapist for treatment of depression and anxiety. (R. at 49.)
Plaintiff said he often feels severe shooting pain in his legs due to his ailments. (R. at 50.) He is on medication for depression, pain, and his heart condition which leads to severe heartburn, drowsiness, mood swings, weakness and bruising. (R. at 51-53.) He testified that he has been prescribed a cane which he uses roughly 80 percent of the time because his left ankle will not support his weight. (R. at 53.) He said he has swelling in his legs and is only able to walk for 8-10 minutes before he gets tired, or possibly up to 20 minutes on a "great day.") (R. at 54-55.)
Plaintiff further testified that he could lift a gallon of milk, but not two bags of groceries (R. at 54.) Plaintiff claimed that that he can only sit in one position for 20-25 minutes before having to change positions. (R. at 55.) He can bend over, but cannot stoop or squat without support. (R. at 56.) Plaintiff asserted that he often suffers from chest pain and shortness of breath, which forces him to sit or lay down. (R. at 65-66.) He also suffers from hearing loss and has trouble getting along with others, as well as difficulties concentrating. (R. at 66-68.)
(2) Medical Evidence
Plaintiff claimed that his severe, medically determinable impairments left ankle pain following surgery, arthritis of the left ankle, borderline peripheral neuropathy at the left ankle, a heart condition, four post-coronary artery bypass grafts, and obesity. (R. at 13.)
Plaintiff injured his chest and abdomen after falling off a ladder in June 2005. (R. at 277.) He was treated by Dr. Ramkrishna Unni and diagnosed with a laceration on his right kidney. (R. at 285.) Plaintiff was treated with a stent after suffering a urinoma around his right kidney. (R. at 295.) He was advised that he could wait for the urinoma to resolve itself, or replace the previous stent. (R. at 296.)
In October 2008, Plaintiff's prostate gland was removed. (R. at 312.) Two years later, in October 2010, a cyst was removed from his left foot. (R. at 313.) He began physical therapy in November 2010, which continued until February 2011 when he reported doing better. (R. at 1054-1055.) Also in November 2010, Patrick McKian, a licensed clinical psychologist, diagnosed Plaintiff with symptoms of depression and anxiety. (R. at 389.)
The following year, March 2011, Plaintiff suffered a heart attack. (R. at 1129.) He underwent an angioplasty and stent placement in his right coronary artery. ( Id. ) He underwent four coronary artery bypass grafts, which were performed without complication. (R. at 1263-65.) Plaintiff underwent cardiac therapy and reported his condition improved, despite continuing pain in his left foot. (R. at 1484-93).
Before his heart attack, Plaintiff underwent a consultative medical examination at the request of the State agency on November 17, 2010. (R. at 390-395.) Dr. Kanyao K. Odeluga found Plaintiff had limited lateral flexion in his lumbar spine, but otherwise had full motion in all other joints, including his left ankle. (R. at 392.) Plaintiff was unable to tandem walk, walk on his toes, walk on his heels or hop, and had moderate difficulty squatting. (R. at 395.)
Dr. Fernando Montoya performed Plaintiff's physical residual functional capacity ("RFC") assessment on December 14, 2010. He determined that Plaintiff could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl, but could never climb ladders, ropes and scaffolds. (R. at 608.) In addition, Plaintiff could occasionally lift or carry up to 20 pounds, frequently lift or carry up to 10 pounds and stand, walk or sit for about six hours in an eight-hour workday. (R. at 607.) He also found no manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. (R. at 609-610.) Thereafter, Dr. M. Brill reviewed Plaintiff's file and affirmed Dr. Montoya's assessment without any further explanation. (R. at 1127.) Five months later, on April 15, 2011, treating physician Dr. Nada Mukoski opined that Plaintiff is no longer able to work because of his kidney disease and kidney injury, prostatectomy, left ankle injury, back strain, complications as a ...