United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
SOROKIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, Jessica McGill Adamson, seeks reversal and remand
of a decision by the defendant, the Acting Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”), denying her Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”). Doc. No. 16. The Commissioner
seeks an order affirming her decision. Doc. Nos. 17, 18. For
the reasons that follow, Adamson's Motion to Reverse is
DENIED, and the Commissioner's Motion for Order Affirming
the Decision is ALLOWED.
March of 2014, Adamson applied for DIB, alleging that she
became disabled on March 11, 2013. A.R. at
255-56. Her application was denied initially on
April 8, 2014, A.R. at 200-02, and again upon reconsideration
on July 25, 2014, A.R. at 207-09. On August 18, 2014, Adamson
requested a hearing before an administrative law judge
(“ALJ”). A.R. at 210. Adamson appeared,
represented by counsel, and testified at her November 10,
2015 hearing, which also featured testimony by a vocational
expert Diane Durr. A.R. at 150-177.
the ALJ issued a written decision denying Adamson's
application. A.R. at 10-27. Adamson's timely request for
review by the Appeals Council was denied, A.R. at 1-6,
rendering the ALJ's determination the final decision of
the Commissioner. Adamson filed this action appealing the
Commissioner's decision on December 28, 2016. Doc. No. 1.
Adamson's Physical Impairments
paperwork accompanying her applications, Adamson claimed she
suffered from physical impairments, including loss of
function from surgery, weakness, fatigue of limb, pain
spikes, numbness, loss of sensation of wrist and hand, and
sensitivity to touch and objects.A.R. at 282. The
administrative record contains the following relevant
evidence regarding Adamson's alleged physical
• Adamson worked as a cashier at a restaurant and as a
cashier and deli worker at a convenience store. A.R. at
162-63. She asserts that on November 14, 2011, she sustained
a work-related injury to her right hand and received
preliminary treatment at the Falmouth Hospital emergency
room. Doc. No. 16 at 4; A.R. at 154. Adamson testified that
she stopped working in 2012. Id.
• On December 13, 2011, Adamson visited the Falmouth
Hospital emergency room complaining of increased pain in her
right wrist after having rolled onto it the night before.
A.R. at 359. She received a radiograph of her right wrist,
which indicated “[w]idened scapholunate interval
suggesting ligament disruption.” A.R. at 357. Emergency
staff diagnosed Adamson with tendonitis (De Quervain's
tenosynovitis) and instructed her to take ibuprofen. A.R. at
• At the instruction of her primary care physician,
Adamson obtained an MRI of her right wrist in January 2012.
The results of the MRI indicated “disruption of the
scapholunate ligament and widening of distance between the
scaphoid and lunate.” A.R. at 345-349, 351.
• In March 2012, Adamson visited the emergency center at
Cape Cod Hospital complaining of persistent pain and swelling
in her right arm, which she described as more severe than her
prior symptoms and prohibitive of work. A.R. at 144-146.
Emergency staff observed “right wrist tenderness with
palpation diffuse” and “weakness and limited
[range of motion.]” A.R. at 145. Adamson was prescribed
Vicodin and instructed to consult an orthopedic specialist.
A.R. at 146.
• Adamson asserts that she received conservative
treatment from orthopedic physician Dr. Jason Fanule in July
2012. Doc. No. 16 at 4. The administrative record does not
include information about this treatment.
• In October 2012, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey L.
Zilderfarb completed a onetime impartial examination of
Adamson for the Massachusetts Department of Industrial
Accidents. A.R. at 478-79. Dr. Zilderfarb found
“limited range of motion of the wrist with tenderness
to palpation” and diagnosed “[p]robable
scapholunate ligament tear with de Quervain's
tendinitis.” Id. Dr. Zilderfarb concluded that
Adamson “is capable of light duty work that does not
involve lifting more than two pounds with the right wrist and
no repetitive use of the right arm.” Id.
• In February 2013, Adamson first visited orthopedic
surgeon and hand and upper extremity specialist Dr. Hillel
Skoff. A.R. at 452-53. Dr. Skoff determined that surgical
intervention was appropriate but explained to Adamson that he
should only perform the surgery after she had recovered from
a pulmonary embolism for which she then was being treated.
• In August 2013, Dr. Skoff performed right wrist first
dorsal compartment release and a capsulorrhaphy and ligament
reconstruction on the right wrist. A.R. at 457.
• In September 2013, Dr. Skoff placed Adamson into a
short-arm cast and instructed her to perform range of motion
exercises. A.R. at 449. In December 2013, Dr. Skoff removed
Adamson's cast and prescribed mobilization and
strengthening exercises and occupational therapy. A.R. at
• After a follow-up visit in January 2014, Dr. Skoff
reported that Adamson's physical therapist had not been
covering all of the exercises that Dr. Skoff had recommended.
A.R. at 445. He instructed Adamson to communicate to the
therapist “to be more aggressive” with these
• Following a March 2014 examination, Dr. Skoff noted
that “[Adamson's] preoperative pain level as well
as her functional level have improved by virtue of the
operations, but her range of motion remains somewhat
deficient.” A.R. at 454. He observed that “[s]he
has improved over time” but that “her main issues
have been scarring after the procedure while limiting motion
relative to both of these procedures.” Id. Dr.
Skoff discussed scar-cutting treatment with Adamson, but
otherwise communicated to her that “she has reached an
end result with respect to treatment to date.”
• In April 2014, a state agency physician, Dr. Richard
Cohen, completed a Residential Functional Capacity Assessment
of Adamson. A.R. at 178-185. He opined that Adamson could
perform light work but needed to avoid ladders completely and
engage in only occasional fine and gross ...