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Mangham v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

December 11, 2017

CHRISTINE MANGHAM on behalf of R.M. Plaintiff,



          Thomas M. Parker, United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Christine Mangham seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application for supplemental social security income (“SSI”) on behalf of her minor child, R.M. under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. This matter is before the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1383(c)(3), 42 U.S.C. §405(g) and Local Rule 72.2(b).

         Because substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision and because Mangham has failed to identify any error of law in the ALJ's evaluation of her claim, I recommend that the final decision of the Commissioner be AFFIRMED.

         II. Procedural History

         Mangham applied for SSI on behalf of her minor child, R.M., on November 21, 2013. (Tr. 121-128). The Social Security Administration denied Mangham's application initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 75, 85) After an October 20, 2015 hearing, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) George D. Roscoe denied the claim on November 19, 2015. (Tr. 8-26). The appeals counsel declined review of that decision, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-5)

         III. Standard for Child Disability Claims

         The standard for evaluating a child disability claim differs from that used for an adult's claim. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C); see also Miller ex rel. Devine v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 37 Fed.Appx. 146, 147 (6th Cir. 2002). A child is considered disabled if she has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that results in marked and severe functional limitations and can be expected to result in death or 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)(C). To determine whether a child is disabled, the regulations prescribe a three-step sequential evaluation process. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). At Step One, a child must not be engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(b). At Step Two, a child must suffer from a “severe impairment.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(c). At Step Three, disability will be found if a child has an impairment, or combination of impairments, that meets, medically equals, or functionally equals an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpt. P, App'x 1; 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(d).

         To determine whether a child's impairment functionally equals the Listings, the Commissioner must assess the functional limitations caused by the impairment. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(a). This is done by evaluating how a child functions 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 [oneself]; and (6) health and physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1)(i)-(vi). If a child's impairment results in “marked” limitations[1] in two or more domains, or an “extreme” limitation[2] in one domain, the impairments functionally equal the Listings and the child will be found disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(d).

         IV. The ALJ's Decision

         On November 19, 2015, the ALJ decided:

1. R.M. was born on December 3, 2005. Therefore, she was a school-age child on October 16, 2013, the date the application was filed, and is currently a school-age child. (Tr. 14)
2. R.M. has not engaged in substantial activity since October 16, 2013, the application date. (Tr. 14)
3. R.M. has the following severe impairments: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, disruptive behavior disorder and depressive disorder. (Tr. 14)
4. R.M. does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 14)
5. R.M. does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that functionally equal the severity of one of the listed impairments. (Tr. 16)
In determining functional equivalence, the ALJ individually evaluated R.M.'s abilities under all six domains of functioning and made the following findings:
a. Acquiring and using information: less than marked limitation
b. Attending and completing tasks: less than marked limitation
c. Interacting and relating with others: marked limitation
d. Moving about and manipulating objects: no limitation
e. Caring for yourself (Self-care): no limitation
f. Health and physical well-being: no limitation

(Tr. 16-23) Based on these findings, the ALJ determined that R.M. had not been under a disability since October 16, 2013, the date the application was filed. (Tr. 23)

         V. Relevant Evidence

         A. Relevant Medical Evidence

         R.M.'s school referred her to Beech Brook for a mental health assessment on March 20, 2013. (Tr. 212-227) R.M. was being disruptive in the classroom and refusing to do work. (Tr. 213) R.M.'s mother expressed concerns about R.M.'s peer relationships and challenges with her sibling at home. (Tr. 213) R.M.'s strengths were listed as being helpful, affectionate and intelligent. (Tr. 213) Beech Brook's records state that R.M. was getting A's and B's at school. (Tr. 218) The examiner noted that R.M. had reduced social skills, had challenges interacting with peers, challenges with being told no, tended to externalizing her feelings, was struggling with anxiety and sadness, and she did not appropriately solve her problems. (Tr. 224) R.M. had been placed in a foster home from age two to four. (Tr. 224) The therapist diagnosed attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), depressive disorder and assigned a Global Assessment of Functioning (“GAF”) score of 55. (Tr. 225)

         R.M. met with Thomas Eppright, M.D., at Beech Brook on July 26, 2013 for pharmacologic management. (Tr. 230) Dr. Eppright noted a significant history of impulsivity, distractibility, hyperactivity, off task behavior and trouble sitting at school. He noted that she could do the academic work but was having difficulty in day-to-day functioning because of her symptoms. On examination, R.M. was impulsive, distracted, hyperactive and off task. She had no suicidal or homicidal thoughts, no delusions, hallucinations or paranoia. Her thoughts were goal directed; her insight and judgment were limited; and her intelligence was average to below average. Dr. Eppright diagnosed ADHD, combined type, rule out mood disorder, and assigned a GAF score of 55. (Tr. 230-231) He prescribed a trial of Adderall and started R.M. on Clonidine at bedtime. (Tr. 231)

         In August 2013, Social worker, Kimberly Fuller, met with R.M. to review her individualized school plan. (“ISP”) (Tr. 241-242) Ms. Fuller noted that R.M. had made minimal progress in her ability to identify her thoughts and feelings and their connections to her behaviors. She had progressed in her ability to decrease impulsivity and increase productivity and seemed to benefit from medication. (Tr. 242)

         R.M. again met with Dr. Eppright in August 2013. Dr. Eppright noted that R.M. had had an excellent response to medication and had significantly less impulsivity, distractibility and hyperactivity. R.M.'s appetite and sleep were good. ...

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