Civil Action No. 12-215
AND NOW, this 25th day of March, 2014, upon consideration of the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, the Court, upon review of the Commissioner of Social Security's final decision, denying plaintiff's claim for disability insurance benefits under Subchapter II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §401, et seq., and denying plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income benefits under Subchapter XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §1381, et seq., finds that the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and, accordingly, affirms. See 42 U.S.C. §405(g); Jesurum v. Secretary of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 48 F.3d 114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995); Williams v. Sullivan, 970 F.2d 1178, 1182 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied sub nom., 507 U.S. 924 (1993) ; Brown v. Bowen, 845 F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d Cir. 1988). See also Berry v. Sullivan, 738 F. Supp. 942, 944 (W.D. Pa. 1990) (if supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed, as a federal court may neither reweigh the evidence, nor reverse, merely because it would have decided the claim differently) (citing Cotter v. Harris, 642 F.2d 700, 705 (3d Cir. 1981)).
As stated above, substantial evidence supports the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") that Plaintiff is not disabled under the Social Security Act. The ALJ adequately explained the rationale for the weight he assigned to the evidence in the record, and substantial evidence supports his findings.
Therefore, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (document No. 9) is DENIED and defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (document No. 11) is GRANTED.
Alan N. Bloch
United States District Judge
ecf: Counsel of record
One point, however, requires further discussion. Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to find that she had additional impairments that were severe at Step Two of the analysis, specifically, her migraine headaches and neck pain. However, she fails to acknowledge that the Step Two determination as to whether she is suffering from a severe impairment is a threshold analysis requiring the showing of only one severe impairment. See Bradley v. Barnhart, 175 Fed. Appx. 87, 90 (7th Cir. 2 006). In other words, as long as a claim is not denied at Step Two, it is not generally necessary for the ALJ specifically to have found any additional alleged impairment to be severe. See Salles v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 229 Fed. Appx. 140, 145 n. 2 (3d Cir. 2007); Lee v. Astrue, 2007 WL 1101281, at *3 n.5 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 12, 2007) ; Lyons v. Barnhart, 2006 WL 1073076, at *3 (W.D. Pa. March 27, 2006). Since Plaintiff's claim was not denied at Step Two, it does not matter whether the ALJ correctly or incorrectly found Plaintiff's other alleged impairments to be non-severe.
Of course, even if an impairment is non-severe, it may still affect a claimant's residual functional capacity ("RFC"). In assessing a claimant's RFC, the ALJ "must consider limitations and restrictions imposed by all of an individual's impairments, even those that are not 'severe.'" S.S.R. 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184 (S.S.A.), at *5 (July 2, 1996). See also 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a) (2), 416.945(a) (2). "While a 'not severe' impairment (s) standing alone may not significantly limit an individual's ability to do basic work activities, it may - when considered with limitations or restrictions due to other impairments - be critical to the outcome of a claim." S.S.R. 96-8p at *5. Accordingly, merely because the ALJ did not find Plaintiff's migraine headaches and neck pain to be severe does not mean that these conditions could not still have affected Plaintiff's RFC. Here, however, substantial evidence supports the ALJ's findings as to Plaintiff's functional limitations. As to her migraine headaches, the ALJ found that the medical record did not support Plaintiff's claims that these headaches had more than a minimal limitation on her ability to perform basic work activities. The Court notes that no medical source, including Dr. Asha Swaim, M.D., opined as to any limitations that would result from Plaintiff's headaches. As to Plaintiff's neck pain, the record does not suggest any imitations that should have been included in the RFC based on this condition, nor does Plaintiff suggest what these additional limitations would be. Accordingly, there is no basis for Plaintiff's argument regarding the ALJ's analysis at Step Two or as to her RFC.