United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13
(see also Notice of Initial Assignment to a U.S.
Magistrate Judge and Consent Form, Dkt. 5; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 6). This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 13, 14.
had a baby in January 2013 and later developed postpartum
cardiomyopathy (“PPCM”). See, e.g., AR.
283. PPCM presents with symptoms of heart failure secondary
to left ventricular systolic dysfunction, such as shortness
of breath and cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) and symptoms of
acute renal failure. See Dkt. 14, pp. 3-5 (citing,
e.g., Peripartum Cardiomyopathy, Michael P. Carson,
visited August 21, 2017)). Plaintiff contends that the ALJ
erred by failing to conclude that some of these symptoms were
severe impairments and by failing to conclude that
plaintiff's impairments met or medically equaled a Listed
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the ALJ did not commit any harmful error during the
evaluation of plaintiff's Social Security application.
Although plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to conclude
that some of her impairments were severe, plaintiff failed to
carry her burden to demonstrate that any of these impairments
were independent medically determinable impairments lasting
for at least a year. For example, although plaintiff contends
that the ALJ improperly failed to conclude that her shortness
of breath was a severe impairment, the record shows that
plaintiff's shortness of breath resolved within six
months of her alleged onset date of disability. Similarly,
regarding plaintiff's allegation regarding Listing 4.02,
heart failure, plaintiff did not provide evidence
demonstrating, as alleged, that her ejection fraction was 30
percent or less for more than six months from the date of
alleged disability onset.
this matter is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
ERICA LA TRESHIA HARVEY-MITCHELL, was born in 1977 and was 36
years old on the alleged date of disability onset of July 20,
2013. See AR. 22, 183- 86, 187-92. Plaintiff has at
least a high school education and is able to communicate in
English. See AR. 29. Plaintiff has experience
working in child care centers. AR. 43-45.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“history of postpartum cardiomyopathy and morbid
obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” AR. 24.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with her three
children. AR. 48.
applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title
II) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of
the Social Security Act were denied initially and following
reconsideration. See AR. 65, 66, 83, 84.
Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge Timothy Mangrum (“the
ALJ”) on December 23, 2014. See AR. 35-64. On
June 5, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which he
concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the
Social Security Act. See AR. 19-34.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) Did the Commissioner err in determining
plaintiff's severe impairments; (2) Did the Commissioner
err in determining that plaintiff did not meet or equal a
medical listing; (3) Did the Commissioner err in evaluating
plaintiff's residual functional capacity; and (4) Did the
Commissioner err because the decision is not supported by
substantial evidence. See Dkt. 13, p. 2.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if the
ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported
by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss
v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 (9th Cir. 2005)
(citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th
Did the Commissioner err in determining plaintiff's
contends that the ALJ erred at step two when considering
plaintiff's severe impairments, arguing that the ALJ
failed to consider whether plaintiff's other numerous
impairments were severe, and therefore failed to account for
any limitations based on those impairments. See Dkt.
13, pp. 5-7. Defendant contends that there is no error, and
even if there is any error, it is harmless error.
See Dkt. 14, pp. 2-8.
of the administration's evaluation process requires the
ALJ to determine if the claimant “has a medically
severe impairment or combination of impairments.”
Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1289-90 (9th Cir.
1996) (citation omitted); 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii) (1996). The step-two
determination of whether a disability is severe is merely a
threshold determination, raising potentially only a
“prima facie case of a ...