United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
SARAH WHITE, on behalf of Z. WHITE, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz, United States Magistrate Judge
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
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). This matter
is before the Court on plaintiffs statement of errors (Doc.
12), the Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc. 17),
and plaintiffs reply memorandum (Doc. 18).
I. Procedural Background
Plaintiff was born in 1999 and was 16 years old at the time
of the administrative law judge's ("ALJ")
decision. Plaintiffs mother. Sarah White, filed an
application for child's SSI benefits on plaintiffs behalf
in September 2012, alleging disability due to anxiety and
uncontrollable bowels. Plaintiffs application was denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff, through a
non-attorney representative, requested and was granted a
de novo hearing before ALJ Peter J. Boylan.
Plaintiff and his mother appeared and testified at the ALJ
hearing. On May 11, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying
plaintiffs application. Plaintiffs request for review by the
Appeals Council was denied, making the ALJ's decision the
final administrative decision of the Commissioner.
Legal Framework for Disability Determinations
qualify for SSI as a child under the age of 18, 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 under the age of 18 is considered
disabled for purposes of SSI "if that individual has a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which
results in marked and severe functional limitations, and
which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted
or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not
less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. §
Social Security regulations set forth a three-step sequential
analysis for determining whether a child is disabled for
purposes of children's SSI benefits:
1. Is the child engaged in any substantial gainful activity?
If so, benefits are denied.
2. Does the child have a medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments? If not, benefits are denied.
3. Does the child's impairment meet, medically equal, or
functionally equal any impairment in the Listing of
Impairments, Appendix I of 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P. 20
C.F.R. §416.924(a)? If so, benefits are granted.
20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a)-(d). An impairment which meets or
medically equals the severity of a set of criteria for an
impairment in the listings, or which functionally equals a
listed impairment, causes marked and severe functional
limitations. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(d).
determining whether a child's impairment(s) functionally
equal the listings, the adjudicator must assess the
child's functioning in six domains:
1. Acquiring and using information;
2. Attending and completing tasks;
3. Interacting and relating with others;
4. Moving about and manipulating objects;
5. Caring for yourself; and
6. Heath and physical-being.
20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1)(i)-(vi). To functionally
equal an impairment in the listings, an impairment must
result in "marked" limitations in two domains of
functioning or an "extreme" limitation in one
domain. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(d). The relevant factors
that will be considered in making this evaluation include (1)
how well the child initiates and sustains activities, how
much extra help he needs, and the effects of structured or
supportive settings; (2) how the child functions in school;
and (3) how the child is affected by his medications or other
treatment. 20 C.F.R. §416.926a(a)(1)-(3).
individual has a "marked" limitation when the
impairment "interferes seriously with [the] ability to
independently initiate, sustain, or complete
activities." 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(2)(i). A
"marked" limitation is one that is "more than
moderate" but "less than extreme."
Id. An "extreme" limitation exists when
the impairment "interferes very seriously with [the]
ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete
activities." 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(3)(i).
Day-to-day functioning may be "very seriously
limited" when only one activity is limited by the
impairment or when several activities are limited by the
impairment's cumulative effects. Id.
child's impairment meets, medically equals, or
functionally equals an impairment in the listings, and if the
impairment satisfies the Act's duration requirement, then
the child is considered disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(d)(1). If both of these requirements are not
satisfied, then the child is not considered disabled. 20
C.F.R. § 416.924(d)(2).
The Administrative Law Judge's Findings
applied the sequential evaluation process and made the
following findings of fact and conclusions of law:
1. The [plaintiff] was born [in] 1999. Therefore, he was an
adolescent on September 25, 2012, the date [the] application
was filed, and is currently an ...