HAINES v. ASTRUE
ORDER denying 8 Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 10 Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Alan N. Bloch on 1/3/2012. (kmw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
DAVID D. HAINES,
Civil Action No. 10-732
MICHAEL AS TRUE , COMMISSIONER,
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,
R D E R
AND NOW, this 3rd day of January, 2012, 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 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)
v. Secretary of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 48 F.3d
114, 117 (3d Cir. 1995) i Williams v. Sullivan, 970 F.2d 1178, 1182
(3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied sub nom., 507 U.S. 924 (1993)
Bowen, 845F.2d1211, 1213 (3dCir. 1988).
738 F. Supp. 942 1 944
(W.D. Pa. 1990)
See also Berryv. Sullivan,
(if supported by substantial
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 record evidence supports the decision of the
Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social
Security Act (the "Act"). In so finding, the Court notes that although Plaintiff
argues that the ALJ improperly determined that his alleged impairment relating to
his back pain was non-severe at Step Two of the five-step sequential evaluation
process defined by the Act, this is not really the issue. The Step Two determination
as to whether Plaintiff 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 (7 th Cir. 2006). In other words, as long as a claim is not denied
at Step Two, it is not generally necessary for the ALJ to have specifically found
any addi tional alleged impairment to be severe. See Salles v. Commissioner of Soc.
, 229 Fed. Appx. 140, 145 n.2 (3d Cir. 2007) i 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.
However, 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. II, S. S. R. 96 - 8p, 1996 WL 374184 (S. S .A. ) , at * 5 (July
(emphasis added). See also 20 C.F.R. § 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 back pain
to be severe does not mean that this condition could not still have affected
Nonetheless, the ALJ thoroughly evaluated the effects of this alleged
impairment, and substantial evidence supports his findings regarding Plaintiff's
RFC. Indeed, despite the ALJ' s well-founded concerns about plaintiff's credibility,
he seems to have given plaintiff the benefit. of the doubt in crafting the RFC, which
limits Plaintiff to light work and which includes numerous non-exertional
limitations, including the need for an opportunity for brief (1-2 minute) changes
of position at least every half hour and limitations including no climbing of ladders,
ramps, ropes, scaffolds, or stairs, no crawling, and no more than occasional
balancing, crouching, kneeling, or stooping. These limitations more than
accommodated Plaintiff's back pain in light of the record evidence,especially in
light of the weight properly given to his testimony regarding this pain by the ALJ.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (document No.8) is DENIED and defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (document No. 10) is GRANTED.
s/Alan N. Bloch
United States District Judge
Counsel of record
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?