United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division
SONYA D. DEES, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge United States District Court Southern District of Indiana
Plaintiff Sonya D. Dees requests judicial review of the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”), denying her application for Supplemental Social Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the “Act”). The Court now rules as follows.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Dees filed her application for SSI on May 2, 2011, alleging disability beginning March 1, 2011, due to breathing problems associated with asthma and other lung problems. Dees’ application was initially denied on June 28, 2011, and again upon reconsideration on October 12, 2011. Thereafter, Dees requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). The hearing was held on September 11, 2012, via video conference before ALJ Julia D. Gibbs. Dees and her counsel appeared in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the ALJ presided over the hearing from Falls Church, Virginia. During the hearing, Ray O. Burger also testified as a vocational expert. On October 19, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying Dees’ application for benefits. The Appeals Council upheld the ALJ’s decision and denied a request for review on November 1, 2013. This action for judicial review ensued.
II. EVIDENCE OF RECORD
The medical evidence of record in this case is fairly sparse, and consists mostly of treatment records from Dees’ visits to a hospital emergency room (“ER”).
On January 22, 2011, Dees visited the ER complaining of a cough and chest and nasal congestion. A chest x-ray was indicative of pneumonia. She was diagnosed with pneumonia and an exacerbation of asthma. On February 26, 2011, she visited the ER with similar complaints and additional imaging reflected similarly.
On March 7, 2011, Dees was taken to the ER by ambulance. She complained of worsening shortness of breath. She was diagnosed with an exacerbation of asthma.
From March 15 to March 17, 2011, Dees was treated in the hospital for shortness of breath. Tests indicated “patchy airspace disease, while the pulmonary function study was characterized as consistent with moderate obstructive lung disease, mild gas trapping, and mildly abnormal distribution of ventilation with moderate diffusion.” Tr. at 14. She was diagnosed with allergic asthma, emphysema, and atypical-community acquired pneumonia.
On April 27, 2011, Dees was treated in the ER for wheezing.
On April 28, 2011, Dees followed up with Dr. Cynthia Ebini to establish care. Dr. Ebini diagnosed Dees with emphysema. However, upon examination she observed normal breath sounds, no wheezing, and no rales or crackles in Dees’ lungs.
On June 6, 2011, Dees underwent a physical consultative exam with Dr. Bilal Salfadi. He diagnosed her with emphysema and asthma. He also advised that Dees should “seek further care as she ha[d] diffuse wheezing.” Id. at 337.
On June 22, 2011, Dees underwent a pulmonary function study. The results of the test, which are discussed in further detail below, indicated “significant abnormalities” in the function of her lungs, “though [her breathing] slightly improved with a bronchodilator.” Id. at 15.
On August 15, 2012, Dees was treated in the ER for a cough, nasal congestion, wheezing, and related symptoms. Notes indicate that she had “ran out of meds.” Id. at 399. ...