The opinion of the court was delivered by: MORTON DENLOW, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case comes before this Court on the parties' cross-motions
for summary judgment. Plaintiff Robert L. Jones ("Claimant")
challenges the decision of Defendant Jo Anne B. Barnhart,
Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), claiming that
her denial of his Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
("DIB") and Social Security Insurance payments ("SSI") should be
reversed or remanded because the decision contains errors of law
and is not supported by substantial evidence. For the reasons
stated below, Claimant's motion for summary judgment is granted
and the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment is denied. The
case is remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings.
Claimant filed an application for DIB and SSI on November 27,
2000, alleging that he had been disabled since May 18, 1999, due
to a right wrist injury. R. 17, 30. On February 6, 2001, the Social Security Administration determined that
Claimant was disabled from May 18, 1999, through September 7,
2000, but not thereafter, and awarded Claimant benefits for that
closed period. R. 17, 32-34. Claimant's request for
reconsideration of this determination was denied, and he
requested an administrative hearing. R. 17, 35-46. On November 7,
2002, an administrative law judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing at
which Claimant, represented by counsel, appeared and testified.
R. 268-89. In addition, Timothy Bodsoniski testified as a
vocational expert ("VE"). R. 289-301. In a decision dated
December 10, 2002, the ALJ found that Claimant was not disabled
after September 7, 2000, because he had regained the ability to
perform jobs that existed in significant numbers in the local
economy R. 14-29. This became the final decision of the
Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Claimant's request
for review of the decision on December 10, 2003. R. 5-8. Claimant
then filed this action for review of the decision pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The parties have consented to this Court's
jurisdiction to decide this case pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1).
Claimant was forty-six years old at the time of the
administrative hearing. R. 30, 271. He has an eighth-grade
education, and has difficulty reading and writing. R. 98, 276,
285. He is right-handed. R. 285. From 1994 until he injured his
wrist in May of 1999, Claimant worked as a temporary laborer, a
job that required mostly heavy lifting. R. 80, 290. Prior to
that, Claimant held jobs as a leather tanner from 1976 to 1993,
as a security guard from 1985 to 1987, and as a housekeeper from 1991 to 1993. R. 80-83.
After he injured his wrist, he was unable to perform the lifting
his temporary labor job required. He also claims that he suffers
from a heart condition that causes him chest pain and shortness
1. Wrist Injury and Treatment
Claimant's primary medical complaint is a loss of function in
his right wrist. He injured the wrist in a work-related
automobile accident on May 18, 1999. R. 145, 172, 270. He was
treated at Rush Presbyterian Occupational Health Center, where he
was diagnosed with a sprain of the right wrist, given a splint
and Naprosyn, and was advised to begin occupational therapy. R.
172. On October 9, 1999, Claimant went to see Dr. John Ruder, who
recommended an arthrogram. R. 172. The study revealed a
scapholunate ligament*fn1 tear. R. 172.
On October 30, 1999, Claimant sought treatment for wrist pain
in the outpatient department of Norwegian American Hospital. R.
145. Upon examination, Dr. Mohammed Sirajullah determined that
Claimant needed a scapholunate fusion, but he asked Claimant to
seek additional opinions due to the complicated nature of
Claimant's injury and unlikelihood of a completely satisfactory
solution. R. 146. On January 4, 2000, Dr. Sirajullah performed a
scapholunate fusion and placed a cast on Claimant's arm, but the
operation did not result in the healing of the wrist. R. 135-143. Following the procedure,
the range of motion in Claimant's wrist was limited: dorsiflexion
and palmar flexion were 10 degrees; radial and ulnar deviation
were 10 degrees and 15 degrees, respectively. R. 135.
On April 13, 2000, Dr. Sirajullah advised Claimant to undergo a
course of physical therapy. R. 135. When Dr. Sirajullah saw
Claimant again on May 4, 2000, Claimant had been drinking heavily
and admitted that he had gone to only three physical therapy
appointments. R. 135. Dr. Sirajullah last saw Claimant on May 23,
2000, at which time Claimant continued to express dissatisfaction
with the function of his wrist. R. 135. An x-ray examination
showed no changes to the wrist, and there was no bony union at
the site of the attempted fusion. R. 135.
On June 21, 2000, Claimant went back to see Dr. Ruder. Upon
examination, Dr. Ruder felt that Claimant had a static
scapholunate disassociation without sign of fusion of the
scapholunate articulation. R. 173. A week later, Claimant saw Dr.
Daniel Nagle, who confirmed Dr. Ruder's opinion and diagnosed
Claimant with scapholunate disassociation and possible triangular
fibrocartilage tear. R. 174. Dr. Nagle noted arthritic changes,
and felt a CT scan was needed, as well as possible arthroscopy.
On July 26, 2000, Dr. Nagle performed the arthroscopy. Claimant
tolerated the procedure well, and awoke from anesthesia "without
difficulty." R. 149, 153. The arthroscopy demonstrated diffuse
posttraumatic arthritic changes to his right wrist and grade IV chondromalacia.*fn2 R. 167. Dr. Nagle recommended that
Claimant engage in no "heavy activity" and perform gentle wrist
range of motion exercises. R. 167. In a follow-up visit, Claimant
informed Dr. Nagle that his pain along the ulnar side of the
wrist was gone, and he was able to do "a little work on his car"
the day after surgery. R. 167.
Claimant's relief was short-lived, however, and he returned to
see Dr. Nagle on August 8, 2000, complaining of pain in his
wrist. R. 166. Dr. Nagle suggested that Claimant use a splint and
consider undergoing a panarthrodesis operation.*fn3 R. 166.
Claimant demurred, but returned to see Dr. Nagle again on
September 7, 2000, because of discomfort in his wrist. R. 163.
Dr. Nagle informed Claimant that without further surgery,
Claimant had likely reached his maximum medical improvement. R.
163. Claimant informed Dr. Nagle that he was afraid of surgery
and would rather simply try to return to work. R. 163. As such,
Dr. Nagle recommended a functional evaluation to determine
Claimant's work restrictions. R. 163. While the evaluation was
scheduled for September 29, 2000, the record fails to indicate
that Claimant kept the appointment. R. 165. It would appear that
Claimant has not sought further treatment for his wrist since
Claimant has also been treated for complaints of chest pain. On
April 12, 2001, Claimant was admitted to Norwegian American Hospital for chest
pain. Claimant admitted to having used cocaine, which was
confirmed in testing. R. 192, 195. The attending physician, Dr.
Farida Ahmed, found diffuse perfusion abnormalities in all three
major coronary arteries, left ventricular dilation, decreased
ejection fraction, and severe wall motion abnormalities. R. 189.
An EKG performed on April 13, 2001, by Dr. Raghu Ramadurai was
characterized as abnormal with sinus rhythm, occasional premature
atrial contractions, and left ventricular hypertrophy with
ST-wave abnormalities. R. 191. Dr. Ahmed's principal final
diagnosis was cardiomyopathy, with atypical chest pain, cocaine
abuse, and hypertension. R. 188-89.
On December 13, 2001, Claimant was again admitted to Norwegian
American Hospital for chest pain. R. 236-38. Claimant was
diagnosed with palpitation, chest pain, and cocaine abuse.
Claimant returned on May 22, 2002, again complaining of chest
pain, which was, again, apparently associated with cocaine abuse.
3. Consultative Examination
On July 17, 2001, Dr. Martin Beermann performed a consultative
examination of Claimant at the request of the state disability
agency, in connection with Claimant's application for disability
benefits. R. 211-227. Claimant informed Dr. Beermann that he was
able to dress and groom himself independently, take his boys to
school and fix them meals, and do light household work such as
sweeping, making the beds, cooking, and light dusting. R. 212.
Upon examination of Claimant's wrist, Dr. Beermann found that it
was difficult to determine whether the joint had fused, but flexion and extension,
although limited to 30 degrees out of 60 degrees, had improved
from Claimant's previous examination. R. 213-14. Grip strength in
Claimant's right hand was 4 on a scale of 5. R. 213. Dr. ...