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Wieme v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. New York

May 19, 2014

KAREN M. WIEME, Plaintiff,


MICHAEL A. TELESCA, District Judge.


Plaintiff, Karen M. Wieme ("Plaintiff" or "Wieme"), brings this action under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act"), claiming that the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant") improperly denied her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB").

Currently before the Court are the parties' competing motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons set forth below, I grant the Commissioner's motion, deny the Plaintiff's cross-motion, and dismiss the Complaint.


On August 9, 2010, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, alleging disability as of December 16, 2009, which was denied. Administrative Transcript [T.] 60-64, 118-124. A hearing was held on December 20, 2011, via videoconference, before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Edgardo Rodriguez-Quilichini, at which Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, testified. T. 9-59. Two medical experts and a vocational expert also testified. T. 32-35, 37-43, 53-58. On January 5, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled during the relevant period. T. 12-28.

On March 4, 2013, the Appeals Councils denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. T. 1-7. This action followed.


Plaintiff, who was age 34 at the time of the alleged onset date, has a bachelor's degree and specialized training as a captionist. T. 43, 118, 142. She previously worked as a captionist, a customer service associate, and a human resources associate. T. 43-44, 146, 165-172.

Plaintiff claims that she is disabled due to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome ("CFS"), irritable bowel syndrome ("IBS"), polycystic ovarian syndrome ("PCOS"), and depression and anxiety. T. 145.

Medical Evidence Before the Period at Issue

Prior to December 16, 2009, Plaintiff was treated for depression and anxiety, malaise and fatigue, back pain, upper respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis, a sprain in her thoracic region, left wrist pain and hand parasthesias, PCOS, obesity, hyperlipidemia, GERD, and otitis media. T. 206-219, 230, 280-310.

Relevant Medical Evidence from December 16, 2009 to January 5, 2012

On December 18, 2009, Plaintiff went to Unity Family Medicine ("Unity") complaining of upper respiratory problems, and was diagnosed with acute shortness of breath, worsening malaise and other fatigue, and acute abdominal pain. T. 248-250.

In January 2009, Plaintiff returned to Unity and was seen by Stefanie King, M.D., who assessed malaise and fatigue. T. 253. Dr. King reported that Plaintiff would likely need to be on shortterm disability due to her chronic absences and took Plaintiff out of work for a week. Plaintiff's medications at that time were listed as Vitamin D, Celexa, Xyrtec, Flonase, oral contraceptives and Metformin. T. 253. Later in January, Plaintiff returned to Unity complaining of continued low energy and fatigue. T. 254-255. Letitia Devoesick, D.O. assessed poorly controlled malaise and fatigue, and reported that Plaintiff would continue to be out of work for an additional month. T. 255. Plaintiff again returned to Unity in January and February complaining of the same continued symptoms, and reporting recurrent depression and anxiety. No significant changes in Plaintiff's health were reported, Dr. Devoesick continued Plaintiff out of work until the middle of March, and increased Plaintiff's dosage of Celexa. T. 319-321, 257, 259, 355, 322-323, 324, 259. In March 2010, Plaintiff saw Dr. Devoesick, complaining that she felt no improvement, that some of her symptoms had worsened, and that she experienced increased depression and anxiety. T. 260-261. Dr. Devoesick assessed poorly controlled malaise and fatigue, noted that Plaintiff would continue to be out of work until June 1, and replaced Plaintiff's Celexa medication with Cymbalta. T. 261.

Plaintiff returned to Dr. Devoesick in April, May, and mid-June, complaining of the same symptoms, and no significant changes were reported in Plaintiff's health. At her April visit, Dr. Devoesick prescribed Diflunisal at bedtime for Plaintiff's aches and pains T. 263, 265-267. At her June visit, Plaintiff reported that she could not currently return to work because of her ongoing symptoms. T. 268. Dr. Devoesick assessed "fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue syndrome" and also discounted Plaintiff's Cymbalta medication and prescribed Savella. T. 269.

On June 27, 2010 Plaintiff presented to Unity Hospital Emergency Department for nausea and vomiting, dizziness, and fatigue for the past three days. T. 220-229. Plaintiff reported that she had discontinued Savella and restarted Cymbalta. Treatment notes reflect an impression of "dizziness (unknown cause), [p]robable [m]edication [s]ide [e]ffect, [g]eneral [w]eakness." T. 224. Plaintiff was discharged in improved, stable condition and advised to follow-up with her primary care physician. T. 224.

Plaintiff followed-up with Dr. Devoesick on June 30, 2010, complaining of continued nausea, pain, fatigue, a fever the previous night, and ongoing depression and anxiety. T. 271-273. Plaintiff reported that she was still out of work due to ongoing muscle and joint pain and fatigue, and that she was limited in her activities which caused her symptoms to flare up. T. 271. Dr. Devoesick assessed a possible "viral illness on top of med side effect... as well as recurrent symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue." T. 271. She prescribed Vicodin for short-term pain relief of Plaintiff's musculoskeletal symptoms, and Zofran for nausea. T. 272. Dr. Devoesick noted that Plaintiff continued to be unable to work. T. 272.

On November 1, 2010, Plaintiff returned to Dr. Devoesick, complaining of continued fatigue and pain, intermittent hand numbness and pain, and upper respiratory issues. T. 357. Dr. Devoesick opined that Plaintiff was disabled from work due to significant fatigue and musculoskeletal pain related to fibromyalgia. She ...

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