United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Jamie Adams, brings this action on behalf of her minor
daughter, H.C.P., seeking judicial review, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g), of a decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration (Commissioner) denying
H.C.P.'s application for child's supplemental
security income (SSI) benefits under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act (Act).
Adams protectively filed the application for SSI on her minor
daughter H.C.P.'s behalf on October 31, 2012, alleging
that H.C.P., who was a school-age child when the application
was filed, is disabled due to hypertension. (Doc. 10, pp. 47,
121). An administrative video hearing was held on October 22,
2013, at which, appeared with counsel and testified. (Doc.
10, pp. 30-46).
ALJ, in a written decision dated March 25, 2014, found that
H.C.P. had the following severe impairments: cardiovascular
disorder (hypertension) and a genitourinary disorder
(anomalies of the urinary system, vesicourethral reflex).
(Doc. 10, p. 17). However, the ALJ further found that as
H.C.P. did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that was medically or functionally equal to a
listed impairment, H.C.P. was not disabled. (Doc.10, pp.
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which after reviewing additional evidence,
denied that request on October 23, 2015. (Doc. 10, pp. 4-7).
Subsequently, Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). Both
parties have filed appeal briefs, and this case is before the
undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Docs.
Court has reviewed the entire transcript. The complete set of
facts and arguments are presented in the parties' briefs,
and are repeated here only to the extent necessary.
Court's role is to determine whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Ramirez v.
Barnhart, 292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but it is enough that a
reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. The ALJ's decision must be
affirmed if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Edwards v. Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966
(8th Cir. 2003). As long as there is substantial evidence in
the record that supports the Commissioner's decision, the
Court may not reverse it simply because substantial evidence
exists in the record that would have supported a contrary
outcome, or because the Court would have decided the case
differently. Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747
(8th Cir. 2001). In other words, if after reviewing the
record it is possible to draw two inconsistent positions from
the evidence and one of those positions represents the
findings of the ALJ, the decision of the ALJ must be
affirmed. Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068 (8th
regulations prescribe a three-step process for making the
disability determination. First, the ALJ must determine
whether the child has engaged in substantial gainful
activity. See 20 C.F.R. 416.924(b). Second, the ALJ
must determine whether the child has a severe impairment or
combination of impairments. See 20 C.F.R.
416.924(c). Third, the ALJ must determine whether the severe
impairment(s) meets, medically equals, or functionally equals
a listed impairment. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(d). In the present case, the ALJ found that
H.C.P.'s claim failed at step three, as H.C.P. did not
have an impairment that met or medically or functionally
equaled a listed impairment.
Court finds there is substantial evidence in the record to
support the ALJ's determination that H.C.P.'s
impairments did not meet or medically equal in severity any
listed impairment. See 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpt. P,
App. 1, Part B. The Court next addresses whether H.C.P.'s
impairments are functionally equal to any listed impairment,
or, in other words, whether "what [H.C.P.] cannot do
because of [her] impairments . . . is functionally equivalent
in severity to any listed impairment that includes disabling
functional limitations in its criteria." 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.926a (a). Functional equivalence may be
established by demonstrating marked limitations in two, or
extreme limitations in one of the following
“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) health and physical well-being.
See 20 C.F.R. § § 416.926(b)(1),
416.926a(d). The ALJ should consider all relevant evidence in
the case to determine whether a child is disabled, and the
evidence may come from acceptable medical sources and from a
wide variety of “other sources, ” including
teachers. SSR 09-2P. In fact, the Commissioner's
regulations for childhood disabilities “provide that
parents and teachers, as well as medical providers, are
important sources of information.” Lawson v.
Astrue, 2009 WL 2143754, at *9 (E.D. Mo. July 13, 2009),
citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.9249.
March 25, 2014, administrative decision, the ALJ gave
significant weight to Dr. Stephen A. Whaley's March 24,
2013, Childhood Disability Evaluation. Dr. Whaley opined that
H.C.P. had no limitations with acquiring and using
information, attending and completing tasks, interacting and
relating with others, moving about and manipulating objects
and caring for yourself; and less than marked limitations in
health and physical well-being. (Doc. 10, pp. 61-64).
reviewing the record, the Court is troubled by the weight
given to Dr. Whaley as subsequent medical records and a
teacher questionnaire revealed that H.C.P. continued to miss
school due to the headaches caused by her hypertension.
Medical records completed by Dr. Mohammed Ilyas on May 9,
2013, reported that H.C.P. had quite a few headaches and a
history of nose bleeds. (Doc. 10, pp. 295-308). At that
visit, Plaintiff and her husband reported that they
frequently had to get H.C.P. from school, almost two to three
day per week, due to a pounding headache and high blood
pressure. Dr. Ilyas noted that prehypertension for H.C.P was
112/73, stage hypertension was 116/77 and stage IV
hypertension was 128/89. On August 12, 2013, Vickie Moore,
APN, noted H.C.P.'s blood pressure was 124/76. (Doc. 10,
pp. 278). On August 22, 2013, H.C.P.'s blood pressure was
122/98 and on September 3, 2013, her blood pressure was
134/94. (Doc. 10, pp. 279-282). In November of 2013, Ms.
Natalie Hutto, one of Plaintiff's teachers, ...