The opinion of the court was delivered by: Charles J. Siragusa United States District Judge
This is an action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review the final determination of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), which denied Plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits. Now before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings [#10] and Defendant's cross-motion [#14] for the same relief. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's application is denied, Plaintiff's application is granted, and this matter is remanded for further administrative proceedings.
On or about March 4, 2004, Plaintiff applied for disability benefits, claiming to have become disabled due to bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome ("CTS"), reflex sympathetic dystrophy ("RSD"), and musculoskeletal neck and shoulder pain on May 3, 2001. (80).*fn1 On April 23, 2004 the Commissioner denied the application. (40-43), and on June 6, 2005, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge James Bukes ("ALJ"). (413-38). On May 3, 2006, the ALJ issued a written decision denying Plaintiff's claim. (9-27). Plaintiff subsequently appealed, however, the Appeals Council declined to review the ALJ's determination. (5-7). On January 11, 2007, Plaintiff commenced the instant action. On November 30, 2007, Plaintiff filed the subject motion for judgment on the pleadings, and on April 16, 2008, Defendant filed the subject cross-motion for the same relief.
Plaintiff was 54 years of age at the time of her hearing before the ALJ on June 6, 2005. Plaintiff, who obtained a GED and had paralegal training in college, worked as a hotel desk manager/auditor from May 1989 until May 2001. (81, 416-17). Plaintiff has not worked since May 31, 2001. (417).
The medical evidence involved in this case is described in detail in the parties' submissions and need not be repeated here. It is sufficient for purposes of this Decision and Order to note the following facts.
In late 1998, Plaintiff complained to Dr. Mark Mauer, M.D. ("Mauer"), her treating physician, of wrist, hand, and finger pain. (209-221). Mauer attributed Plaintiff's hand and arm pain to CTS. In March 2003, Plaintiff saw Mauer and complained of soreness "from the hips down." (184). Mauer attributed the soreness to arthritis and prescribed Tylenol for the pain. (184). Plaintiff subsequently complained of soreness at other times, and Mauer attributed such pain to a variety of causes, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and RSD.
In 1999, Mauer referred Plaintiff to Thomas Olenginski, M.D. ("Olenginski"), a specialist in rheumatology. Olenginski conducted various blood tests and found no abnormality. (140).
In January 2004, EMG/NCV studies confirmed that Plaintiff suffered from significant bilateral CTS. (165). Plaintiff's neurologist, Dr. Caren Douenias, M.D. ("Douenias"), indicated that conservative measures were not working, and that Plaintiff should consider surgery. (165).
In April 2004, Plaintiff was examined by non-treating consultative orthopedic specialist Dr. Manar Hanna, M.D. ("Hanna"). (272-76). Plaintiff told Hanna that she was able to do "cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, showering, bathing, and dressing" of herself. (273). Hanna conducted a physical examination, and noted that Plaintiff did not need help getting on or off the examining table, and that she had full hand grip strength bilaterally. (273). Hanna found that Plaintiff had no back pain or tenderness. Hanna concluded that Plaintiff's physical exam was essentially normal, although he agreed with a diagnosis of bilateral CTS. In that regard, Hanna stated that Plaintiff would have "mild restriction for activities requiring extensive fine manipulation of the bilateral hands." (274). Hanna further stated that a "diagnosis of [RSD] reflex sympathetic dystrophy [was] extremely unlikely." (274).
On October 11, 2004, Mauer examined Plaintiff after she requested that he fill out forms in support of her application for disability benefits. Mauer reported that Plaintiff suffered from coronary artery disease, hyperlipoproteinemia, hypertension, anxiety, depression, arthritis, and bilateral CTS. (329). On December 20, 2004, Mauer completed a Medical Assessment of Ability to do Work-Related Activities and reported that Plaintiff could not: lift more than ten pounds, sit for more than two hours in an eight hour workday (or ten minutes at one time), stand for more than four hours in an eight hour workday (or one hour at one time), or walk for more than two hours in an eight hour workday (or fifteen minutes at one time). (361-64). As part of that report, Mauer was asked to list, among other things, the clinical findings and laboratory findings that supported his ...