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Miles v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

March 16, 2017

GINA M. MILES, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Dlott, J.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          Karen L. Litkovitz United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Gina Miles, brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying plaintiffs application for child's insurance benefits ("CIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). This matter is before the Court on plaintiffs statement of errors (Doc. 11) and the Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc. 16).

         I. Procedural Background P

         Plaintiff was born in 1991 and turned 18 in September 2009. In 2013, she filed applications for CIB and SSI alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2000, i.e., before her 22nd birthday. Plaintiff alleges disability due to depression, bipolar disorder, back pain, and being on an individualized education plan ("IEP"). (Tr. 211, 220). Plaintiffs applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff, through counsel, requested and was granted a de novo hearing before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Peter J. Boylan. Plaintiff, her mother, and a vocational expert ("VE") appeared and testified at the ALJ hearing. On March 26, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying plaintiffs applications. Plaintiffs request for review by the Appeals Council was denied, making the decision of the ALJ the final administrative decision of the Commissioner.

         II. Analysis

         A. Legal Framework for Disability Determinations

         To qualify for SSI. plaintiff must file an application and be an "eligible individual" as defined in the Act. 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a); 20 C.F.R. § 416.202. Eligibility is dependent upon disability, income, and other financial resources. Id. An individual who has attained the age of 18 is considered disabled for purposes of SSI if she suffers from a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). The impairment must render the individual unable to engage in the work previously performed or in any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B). An individual over the age of 18 who is disabled is entitled to CIB if her disability began before she attained the age of 22 and she meets certain eligibility requirements. 20 C.F.R. § 404.350.

         Regulations promulgated by the Commissioner establish a five-step sequential evaluation process for disability determinations:

1) If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the claimant is not disabled.
2) If the claimant does not have a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment - i.e., an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical or mental ability to do basic work activities - the claimant is not disabled.
3) If the claimant has a severe impairment(s) that meets or equals one of the listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the regulations and meets the duration requirement, the claimant is disabled.
4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is not disabled.
5) If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot make an adjustment to other work, the claimant is disabled.

Robbers v. Comm 'r of Soc. Sec, 582 F.3d 647, 652 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.920(a)(4)(i)-(v), 416.920(b)-(g)). The claimant has the burden of proof at the first four steps of the sequential evaluation process. Id.; Wilson v. Comm 'r of Soc. Sec, 378 F.3d 541, 548 (6th Cir. 2004). Once the claimant establishes a prima facie case by showing an inability to perform the relevant previous employment, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant can perform other substantial gainful employment and that such employment exists in the national economy. Robbers, 582 F.3d at 652; Harmon v. Apfel, 168 F.3d 289, 291 (6th Cir. 1999).

         B. The Administrative Law Judge's Findings

         The ALJ applied the sequential evaluation process and made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

1. Born [in] 1999, the [plaintiff] had not attained age 22 as of January 1, 2000, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.102, 416.120(c)(4) and 404.350(a)(5)).
2. The [plaintiff] has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2000, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The [plaintiff] has the following severe impairments: borderline intellectual functioning and an affective disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The [plaintiff] does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the [plaintiff] has the residual functional capacity [("RFC")] to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following non-exertional limitations. The [plaintiff] is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks. The [plaintiff] is unable to perform at a production-rate pace, such as generally associated with jobs like assembly line worker, but she is able to perform goal-oriented work, such as generally associated with jobs like office cleaner. The [plaintiff] is unable to have fast-paced work. The [plaintiff] is limited to simple, work-related decisions. The [plaintiff] is limited to occasional and superficial interaction with supervisors and coworkers, and she cannot interact with the public as part of her work duties. The [plaintiff] is limited to tolerating occasional changes in a routine work setting.
6. The [plaintiff] has no past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The [plaintiff] was bom [in] 1991 and was 8 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The [plaintiff] has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the [plaintiff] does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).
10. Considering the [plaintiff]'s age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the [plaintiff] can perform (20 CFR ...

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