The opinion of the court was delivered by: P. MICHAEL MAHONEY, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jeanette Smith ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
("Commissioner"). See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The
Commissioner's final decision denied Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") pursuant to Title XVI of the Social
Security Act (the "Act"). 42 U.S.C. § 1381 (a). This matter is before
the Magistrate Judge pursuant to consents filed by both parties on July
15, 2003. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 73.
Plaintiff filed for DIB on June 21, 2000, alleging disability on
February 5, 1999. (Tr. 72). Plaintiff's application for benefits was
denied on November 4, 2000. (Tr. 36). On February 12, 2001, Plaintiff
filed a request for reconsideration. (Tr. 40). Plaintiff's request for
reconsideration was denied on May 17, 2001. (Tr. 44). Plaintiff then
filed a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ")
on July 29, 2001. (Tr. 50). Plaintiff appeared, with counsel, before an
ALJ on July 22, 2002. (Tr. 18). In a decision dated January 27, 2003, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff was not entitled to DIB. (Tr. 17). On February
3, 2003, Plaintiff requested a review of the
ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. (Tr. 7). On April 18, 2003,
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, (Tr. 4).
Plaintiff was born on May 2, 1940 and was sixty-two at the time of her
July 22, 2002 hearing. (Tr. 18). Plaintiff graduated from high school.
(Tr. 68). At the time of her hearing, Plaintiff was married and living
with her husband. (Tr. 21). Plaintiff suffers from pain associated with
her cervical disc disease, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, diffuse
arthritis, and benign positional vertigo. (Tr. 68). It is for these
reasons that Plaintiff claims to be disabled.
From 1980 to 1999, Plaintiff worked for Joseph Behr & Sons ("Joseph
Behr"), a recycling company. (Tr. 22). At Joseph Behr, Plaintiff worked
in the precious metals division performing general clerical work such as
inventory control, accounts receivable and payable accounting, occasional
telephone answering, and general office filing. (Tr. 23). Plaintiff
testified that during her tenure at Joseph Behr, the precious metals
division closed down and, although it appears Plaintiff did not move to
another division, Plaintiff remained an employee even though she was
unable to perform manual labor. (Id.). Plaintiff testified that
Joseph Behr kept her "for her brain." (Id.). In 1999,
Plaintiff's employment at Joseph Behr ended and she received a severance
package based on her eighteen years of service. (Id.).
After her employment at Joseph Behr, Plaintiff testified that she
attempted to find another job. (Tr. 24). Specifically, Plaintiff looked
for clerical work that was not demanding. However, Plaintiff was unable
to find a job because most of the clerical jobs she found required use of
a typewriter, computer or calculator, which Plaintiff apparently could
not operate. After looking for a job, Plaintiff filed for unemployment
and received unemployment compensation from February
1999 until August 1999. (Id.).
At the hearing, Plaintiff was wearing a soft cervical collar and a
splint on both arms. Plaintiff testified she wears the soft cervical
collar when her neck is "aching more and seems to be cracking more." (Tr.
27). Plaintiff testified she wears the arms splints "only when the base
of [her] thumbs and the wrists are aching." (Id.). Plaintiff
also stated she wears them at night. It appears that Plaintiff wears the
arm splints, at least on her right hand and arm, because in 1987
Plaintiff had bilateral carpal tunnel surgery. (Tr. 28).
In closing, Plaintiff testified that she does not believe she can
perform any sit down jobs because of her dexterity problems with her
hands and the fact that, after holding her head in one position too long,
the pain is "excruciating." (Tr. 29). Additionally, Plaintiff stated that
the feeling in her fingers are such that she cannot turn pages in a
book and filing is impossible. (Id.). Plaintiff's hand problems
also prevent her from operating a mouse for a computer. (Tr. 30).
The earliest medical record available to this court is dated May
4, 1998, (Tr. 177). On that date, Dr. Margaret A. Myslek, of Roxbury
Family Medicine, reported that physically, Plaintiff was in good health,
except that Plaintiff had arthritis, mostly osteo in her knees and in her
ankles. (Id.). Emotionally, Dr. Myslek reported, Plaintiff was
not doing too well. Plaintiff's mother had died in January 1998 and
Plaintiff's husband's health condition had worsened. (Id.). Dr.
Myslek prescribed 80 mg once a day of Diovan. (Id.).
Plaintiff saw Dr. Myslek again on June 8, 1998. (Tr. 178). Dr. Myslek
again reported that Plaintiff was doing well physically (except for some
jitteriness from the Diovan). Dr. Myslek also reported that Plaintiff had
improved emotionally due to her husband's improved health.
Myslek's ultimate assessment of Plaintiff was that she was a
postmenopausal female with osteoporosis risk factors. (Id.). Dr.
Myslek also started Plaintiff on 5 mgs of Ziac. (Id.).
Plaintiff worsened physically. On August 31, 1998, Plaintiff again saw
Dr. Myslek. (Tr. 179). Plaintiff complained that she was having more
tenderness in both of her hands over the joints and was experiencing
numbness in her fingers. (Id.). Dr. Myslek also reported that
Plaintiff's blood pressure was not constant and, at times, was high.
On September 17, 1998, a bilateral mammogram was performed on
Plaintiff. (Tr. 190). The mammogram revealed some developing clustered
microcalcification in the medial inferior aspect of Plaintiff's left
breast. (Id.). A microscopic diagnosis was performed on October
12, 1998. (Tr. 183). The microscopic diagnosis revealed sclerosing
adenosis associated with microcalcifications and apocrine metaplasia in
fragments of benign breast tissue. (Id.).
Plaintiff continued to see Dr. Myslek in 1999 and early 2000, but there
are no medical records of any substance until May 16, 2000. (Tr. 126). On
that date, Dr. Myslek reported Plaintiff had neck pain and significant
stiffness in both arms, neck and her lower back. (Id.).
Additionally, Dr. Myslek noted Plaintiff again was experiencing numbness
and tingling in her arms and joints. (Id.). Plaintiff indicated
that her arm grip had weakened due to the numbness and tingling.
(Id.). An objective medical assessment of Plaintiff revealed
that she had tenderness over the neck involving the C3, C4, C5 & C6.
(Id.). Plaintiff had restricted ROM to approximately 45 degrees
to each side on rotation, Dr. Myslek reported Plaintiff's arms revealed
normal sensation with an arm grip of approximately "2/5 bil."
(Id.). Some tenderness over Plaintiff's lumbar vertebrae was
noted. (Id.). A neck x-ray revealed discongenic disease and
partial anklylosing at C5 thru C7 with mild subluxation at C4 & C5.
Also on May 16, 2000, Dr. James J. Langan, of the Camelot Radiology
Associates, performed x-rays on Plaintiff's right hand, left hand, and
cervical spin, (Tr. 128-130). Dr Langan reported that the x-ray of
Plaintiff's right hand revealed that the bone density was normal, no
fracture, dislocation or significant arthritic involvement was noted, but
that a minimal osteophyte formation was seen in the distal
interphalangeal joints. (Tr. 128). An x-ray of Plaintiff's left hand
revealed exactly the same thing as the x-ray of Plaintiff's right hand,
according to Dr. Langan. (Tr. 129). The x-ray of Plaintiff's cervical
spine revealed disk space narrowing at the C5-6 and C6-7 levels where
partial ankylosis was noted. (Tr. 130). Additionally, Dr. Langan reported
that there was atherosclerosis involving the right carotid artery.
(Id.). Ultimately, based on all three x-rays, Dr. ...