Eddy-Fiebig v. Commissioner of Social Security
Memorandum Opinion and Order that the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed. Signed by Magistrate Judge William H. Baughman, Jr., on 3/31/21. (D,Ky)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
DIANA E. EDDY-FIEBIG,
CASE NO. 1:19-CV-02604
WILLIAM H. BAUGHMAN, JR.
Before me1 is an action by Diana E. Eddy-Fiebig under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking
judicial review of the 2018 decision the Commissioner of Social Security that denied EddyFeibig’s 2017 application for disability insurance benefits and 2016 application for
supplemental security income.2 The Commissioner has answered3 and filed the transcript
of the administrative record.4 Pursuant to my initial5 and procedural6 orders, the parties
The parties have consented to my exercise of jurisdiction and the matter was transferred
to me by United States District Judge Benita Y. Pearson. ECF No. 21.
ECF No. 1.
ECF No. 9.
ECF No. 10.
ECF No. 6.
ECF No. 11.
have filed briefs,7 together with supporting charts8 and fact sheets.9 The parties have also
met and conferred with the goal of reducing or clarifying the issues10 and have participated
in a telephonic oral argument.11
For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be affirmed.
The ALJ’s Decision
Eddy-Fiebig was born in 1986,12 has an associate’s degree13 and lives with her
husband and children.14 She has past relevant work as an office clerk and sales clerk,15
although she has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December, 2010.16
The ALJ found that she has the following severe impairments:
Degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, undifferentiated
arthritis, obesity, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, attention
deficit disorder, and personality disorder.17
ECF Nos. 13 (Eddy-Fiebig brief), 17 (Commissioner brief), 18 (Eddy-Fiebig reply).
ECF No. 17, Attachment 1 (Commissioner chart).
ECF No. 14 (Eddy-Fiebig fact sheet).
ECF No. 19.
ECF No. 23.
Tr. at 24.
Id. at 16.
Id. at 23.
Id. at 13.
The ALJ then considered if any of Eddy-Feibig’s impairments met or equaled a
listing.18 After reviewing the evidence as it pertains to listings related to specific severe
impairments, the ALJ then evaluated obesity and fibromyalgia according to the regulations
since these impairments do not have separate, specific listings.19 She noted that no treating
or examining physician mentioned findings, nor did the evidence show any medical
findings, that would show any impairment met or medically equaled a listing.20
After considering the record, the ALJ found that Eddy-Feibig has the residual
functional capacity (RFC) for light work with the following exceptions:
The claimant can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently.
The claimant can stand and/or walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday and sit
for six hours but with a sit/stand option every hour that lasts for five minutes but is
not leaving the workstation. The claimant can occasionally climb stairs or ramps,
no ladders, ropes, or scaffolding, frequently balance or stoop, and occasionally
kneel, crouch and crawl. The claimant can bilaterally reach in front frequently, but
only occasionally reach overhead. The claimant can frequently handle, finger, and
feel. The claimant must not be exposed to extreme cold or humidity. The claimant
can perform simple routine tasks with simple short instructions, simple decisions,
few workplace changes, no fast pace production quota, and occasional interaction
with the public.21
After determining that Eddy-Feibig could not perform her past relevant work,22 the
ALJ obtained testimony from a vocational expert (VE) that a person with Eddy-Fiebig’s
age, education, past relevant work and RFC could perform the jobs of garment sorter, mail
Id. at 14.
Id. at 14-17.
Id. at 17.
Id. at 23.
clerk, and folder, and that those jobs are available in significant numbers in the national
economy.23 Accordingly, Eddy-Fiebig was found not disabled.24
Issues for judicial review
Eddy-Fiebig raises three issues on judicial review:
The ALJ failed to apply the correct legal standards.
The ALJ’s determination regarding credibility was not supported by
The ALJ did not meet her burden at Step Five.25
As to the first issue, Eddy-Fiebig contends that the various non-severe impairments
– gastritis, thyroid nodule, greater trochanteric bursitis, lateral epicondylitis, hypertension
and right shoulder quadrilateral space syndrome – are all documented as being treated by
her physicians and impose greater limitations, especially on her upper extremities, than the
ALJ recognized.26 Further, she maintains that the ALJ did not fully consider the effects of
her obesity, as required under the regulations, and also failed to properly consider the
effects of her fibromyalgia, as required under the relevant regulation.27 Moreover, she
asserts that the ALJ erred by failing to find that some combination of her severe
impairments equaled the criteria of any listing.28
Id. at 24-25.
ECF No. 13 at 1.
Id. at 12.
Id. at 12-13.
Id. at 13.
In addition, she argues here that the ALJ erred by giving only partial weight to the
opinions of the state agency reviewing physicians and to the opinion of the treating
rheumatologist, while giving considerable weight to the opinion of the consultative
psychologist.29 She also alleges that the ALJ “failed to consider” an observation from an
examining psychologist and “ignored” statements from a treating rheumatologist.30 In
particular, she contends that the ALJ committed reversible error by assigning only partial
weight to the symptoms described by her treating rheumatologist, Dr. Gheorghe Ignat.31
As to the second issue, Eddy-Fiebig maintains that the ALJ did not properly evaluate
the medical evidence nor make a “defensible determination” as to whether Eddy-Fiebig’s
testimony was credible.32 Specifically, she argues that her subjective complaints are
supported by objective medical evidence: an EEG, x-rays revealing degenerative disc
disease, an x-ray showing left hip osteoarthritis, tender point findings, a cervical MRI, an
MRI of her arm and a nerve conduction study documenting early carpal tunnel syndrome.33
In her final argument as to Step Five, Eddy-Fiebig contends that her symptoms,
which she argued above, should have been credited and the objective evidence show she
cannot engage in substantial gainful activity on a sustained basis.34 She also points out that
Id. at 14.
Id. at 14-15.
Id. at 15-17.
Id. at 19.
Id. at 19-20.
Id. at 21.
her carpal tunnel syndrome and other extremity limitations preclude her from handling and
fingering on more than an occasional basis.35
I observe initially that the issues here are considered under the well-established
substantial evidence standard, which need not be restated.
The finding of various non-severe impairments is not challenged. Eddy-Freibig now
argues for greater limitations from these impairments.36 Further, she argues that the finding
that the bursitis caused significant limitations in the use of her arms is “misguided” since
the bursitis concerns her hips.37 The Commissioner, for his part, concludes that even if the
ALJ should have considered these impairments “severe,” any error was harmless because
the ALJ addressed these impairments throughout the opinion.38
To that point, the ALJ’s explicit statement that she considered whether Eddy-Feibig
met or equaled a listing both as to an individual impairment and as a combination of
impairments is sufficient to show she made that analysis.39 Further, the finding that Eddy-
ECF No. 17 at 2.
Id. at 2.
Id. at 3 (citing Nejat v. Comm’r, 359 Fed. Appx. 451, 457 (6th Cir. 2009).
Id. at 4 (citing Booth v. Comm’r, 2009 WL 580312, at *6 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 5, 2009)
Freibig’s impairments did not meet or equal a listing was supported by the opinions of two
consulting physicians, which the ALJ could rely upon.40
Moreover, the ALJ fully discussed the medical evidence when considering the
limitations of the RFC. In particular:
Imaging showed degenerative changes in the back, but examinations
consistently showed normal strength in her legs, range of motion and reflexes;41
Imaging showed carpal tunnel syndrome, but no evidence of ulnar
nerve entrapment and no evidence of peripheral neuropathy;42
Obesity was recognized as a severe impairment, but “examining
physicians consistently found that she appeared healthy and maintained normal
physical functioning despite her obesity;43
Fibromyalgia was discussed and the tender point examination was
referenced but notes from the treating physician showed she was improving and her
medications were helping, and that reports of pain existed alongside normal
As to Dr. Ignat, Eddy-Fiebig’s treating physician, he did not provide a medical
opinion to be weighed.45 Rather, Dr. Ignat provided a statement that he was treating EddyFiebig for fibromyalgia and that her symptoms included fatigue, pain, stiffness, swelling,
and flareups.46 As such, this statement did not opine on any work-related functional
limitations.47 Further, neither were Dr. Ignat’s treatment notes a functional opinion that the
Id. at 5 (citing Wamsley v. Comm’r, 2018 WL 6732868, at *3 (N.D. Ohio Nov. 14, 2018),
report and recommendation adopted by 2019 WL 580571 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 13, 2019).
ECF No. 17 at 6 (citing record).
Id. at 7 (citing record).
Id. (citing record).
Id. at 8 (citing record).
Id. at 9.
Id. (citing record).
ALJ was obligated to weigh and analyze.48 Moreover, Eddy-Feibig could have requested a
detailed functional opinion from Dr. Ignat, but did not.49
Finally, as to the analysis of Eddy-Feibig’s credibility, the ALJ is not required to
analyze all the regulatory factors related to credibility so long as substantial evidence
supports the finding.50 Here, the ALJ’s analysis of the medical evidence and of EddyFeibig’s daily activities, along with the fact that the symptoms of her fibromyalgia
responded to treatment, supports the finding on credibility that should here be accorded
Therefore, for the reasons stated, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Dated: March 31, 2021
s/William H. Baughman Jr.
United States Magistrate Judge
Id. at 10.
Felinsky v. Bowen, 35 F.3d 1027 (6th Cir. 1994).
Id. at 13-14 (citing McDaniel v. Saul, 2020 WL 511988, at *16-17 (N.D. Ohio Jan.30,
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