Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Steck v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

March 31, 2017

Daniel A. Steck, Plaintiff
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Jeffrey J. Helmick United States District Judge.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Daniel A. Steck was denied disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on October 1, 2013, after a hearing. (Doc. No. 12 at 24-45). Steck asserts the Administrative Law Judge erred in his evaluation of Steck's mental impairments. (Doc. No. 14). The matter was referred to Magistrate judge James R. Knepp, 11 for a Report & Recommendation. Magistrate Judge Knepp recommends I affirm the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. (Doc. No. 18). Steck objected, to which the Commissioner responded. (Doc. Nos. 19 & 20). For the reasons stated below, I adopt the R & R and overrule Steck's objections.

         II. Background

         I find Magistrate Judge Knepp has succinctly and accurately set forth the procedural and factual background of this case and adopt those sections of the R & R in full. (Doc. No. 18 at 1-9).

         Steck first applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income in December 2009, asserting both physical and mental impairments. (Doc. No. 12 at 126). After a hearing, ALJ Earl Ashford found that Steck was not disabled and denied his application, Id. at 126-43. Steck appealed the decision to the Appeals Council, who granted the request for review. Id. at 151-53. Among other things, the Appeals Council noted that Exhibit IE, a school record upon which the ALJ relied, belonged to Steck's son nor Steck himself, id. at 151. The Exhibit was redacted from the record and the matter referred back to the ALJ for another hearing and a new decision. Id. at 151-53.

         Following a subsequent hearing, the ALJ denied Steck's application once again, finding neither his physical nor mental impairments were severe enough to qualify for Social Security benefits, id. at 24-45. In the matter before the court, Steck brings claims only relating to his mental impairments, specifically whether the ALJ erred in finding he was not intellectually disabled under Listing 12.05C. (Doc. No. 14). Magistrate Judge Knepp recommends I affirm the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. (Doc. No. 18).

         III. Standard

         A district court must conduct a de novo review of "any part of the magistrate judge's disposition that has been properly objected to. The district judge may accept, reject or modify the recommended disposition, receive further evidence, or return the matter to the magistrate judge with instructions." bed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3); see also Norman v. Astrue, 694 F.Supp.2d 738, 740 (N.D. Ohio 2010).

         The district judge "must affirm the Commissioner's conclusions absent a determination that the Commissioner has failed to apply the correct legal standards or has made findings of fact unsupported by substantial evidence in the record." Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). "Substantial evidence is defined as 'such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."' Colvin v. Barnhart, 475 F.3d 727, 730 (6th Cir. 2007) (quoting Heston v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 245 F.3d 528, 534 (6th Cir. 2001)). If the Commissioner's findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence, those findings are conclusive. McClanahan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 474 F.3d 830, 833 (6th Cir. 2006).

         IV. Discussion

         Steck claims to qualify for Social Security benefits under Listing 12.05C for intellectual developmental disorder. (Doc. No. 19). 'lb be considered intellectually disabled under Listing 12.05, the claimant must be diagnostically disabled. 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app.l (Sept. 6, 2013-Dec. 2, 2013). Only after he is determined to be diagnostic ally disabled will the specific factors of Listing 12.05C be considered. Id. A claimant is considered to be diagnostically intellectually disabled if he has "significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with deficits in adaptive functioning initially manifested during the developmental period; i.e. the evidence demonstrates or supports onset of the impairment before age 22." Id.; see also Hayes v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 357 F.App'x 672, 676-77 (6th Cir. 2009); Justice v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 515 F.App'x 583, 587 (6th Cir. 2013).

         As noted in the R &R, there is no dispute that Steck meets the specific requirements of Listing 12.05C. (Doc. No. 18 at 13). The dispute then is whether Steck is intellectually disabled pursuant to the diagnostic description. In his objections, Steck argues that he meets the criterion because he did not graduate high school, is illiterate, and took special education classes. (Doc. No. 19). He objects to the analysis of his education by the ALJ, and the affirmation of the ALJ's finding by Magistrate judge Knepp. Id.

         First, Steck argues that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding that he had graduated from high school. The school was destroyed by a tornado in 2010, and many of the records destroyed with it. The only record the school was able to provide is a partial transcript showing his classes through the eleventh grade. (Doc. No. 12 at 443-44). But as noted in the R & R, Steck repeatedly represented himself as being a high school graduate, even stating so in the first hearing. (Doc. No. 12 at 89, 337- 38, 507-08, 1044, 1089, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.