United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fayetteville Division
BRENDA SINGLETON ON BEHALF OF A.C.G. A MINOR CHILD PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration  DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Brenda Singleton, Plaintiff, brings this action on behalf of
A.C.G., a minor child, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
seeking judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying her claim on behalf of
the minor child for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits under the provisions of Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (“Act”). In this
judicial review, the Court must determine whether there is
substantial evidence in the administrative record to support
the Commissioner's decision. See 42 U.S.C.
protectively filed an application for SSI on A.C.G.'s
behalf on June 15, 2012. (ECF No. 10, pp. 21, 145). In her
application, Plaintiff alleges A.C.G. is disabled due to
heart problems, kidney problems, right foot problems, and
speech problems. (ECF No. 10, p. 137). Plaintiff alleges an
onset date of March 15, 2012. (ECF No. 10, pp. 21, 137). This
application was denied initially and again upon
reconsideration. (ECF No. 10, pp. 61-62).
Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing on the denied
application, and this hearing request was granted. (ECF No.
10, p. 78). Plaintiff's administrative hearing was held
on August 12, 2013, in Fort Smith, Arkansas (ECF No. 10, pp.
38-69). Plaintiff and A.C.G. were present and were
represented by attorney Wayne Young. Id. Plaintiff
testified at this hearing. Id. At the time of this
hearing, A.C.G. was five (5) years old and enrolled in
this hearing, on June 10, 2014, the ALJ entered an
unfavorable decision denying Plaintiff's application on
behalf of A.C.G. for SSI benefits. (ECF No. 10, pp. 17-33).
In this decision, the ALJ found A.C.G. had not engaged in
Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”) since June
15, 2012, the application date. (ECF No. 10, p. 24, Finding
2). The ALJ determined A.C.G. had the following severe
impairments: Cardiovascular Disorder (Congenital Anomalies,
bicuspid aortic valve with long segment of the aortic arch)
(7460/4590) and Genitourinary Disorder (Congenital Anomalies
of the Urinary System, vesicoureteral reflux with renal
atrophy) (7530). (ECF No. 10, p. 24, Finding 3). Despite
being severe, the ALJ determined these impairments did not
meet or medically equal the requirements of any of the
Listings of Impairments in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part
404 (“Listings”). (ECF No. 10, pp. 24-25, Finding
4). The ALJ then determined these impairments did not
functionally equal the severity of the Listings. (ECF No. 10,
pp. 25-32, Finding 5). The ALJ determined A.C.G. had no
limitation in acquiring and using information, attending and
completing tasks, interacting and relating with others,
moving about and manipulating objects, and the ability to
care for himself; the ALJ determined A.C.G. had less than
marked limitation in his health and physical well-being.
Id. Because A.C.G. did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that resulted in either marked
limitation in two domains of functioning or extreme
limitation in one domain of functioning, the ALJ determined
A.C.G. had not been under a disability, as defined by the
Act, from June 15, 2012, through June 10, 2014, the date of
the ALJ's decision. (ECF No. 10, p. 32, Finding 6).
on August 14, 2014, Plaintiff requested a review by the
Appeals Council (ECF. No. 10, pp. 11-16). The Appeals Council
denied this request on October 13, 2015. (ECF No. 10, pp.
5-10). On December 17, 2015, Plaintiff filed the present
appeal with this Court. (ECF No. 1). The parties consented to
the jurisdiction of this Court on January 8, 2016. (ECF No.
7). This case is now ready for decision.
Court's role is to determine whether substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's findings. Vossen v.
Astrue, 612 F.3d 1011, 1015 (8th Cir. 2010). 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. Teague v. Astrue, 638
F.3d 611, 614 (8th Cir. 2011). We must affirm the ALJ's
decision if the record contains substantial evidence to
support it. Blackburn v. Colvin, 761 F.3d 853, 858
(8th Cir. 2014). 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. Miller v. Colvin, 784 F.3d 472, 477
(8th Cir. 2015). 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, we must affirm the ALJ's decision.
determining Plaintiff's claim, the ALJ must follow the
sequential evaluation process set forth in 20 C.F.R. §
416.924. Under this standard, a child must prove he or she
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 twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(c)(I); 20 C.F.R. § 416.906.
specifically, a determination that a child is disabled
requires the following three-step analysis. See 20
C.F.R. §416.924(a). First, the ALJ must consider whether
the child is engaged in substantial gainful activity.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(b). If the child is so
engaged, he or she will not be awarded SSI benefits. See
Id. Second, the ALJ must consider whether the child has
a severe impairment. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(c). A severe impairment is an impairment that is more
than a slight abnormality. See Id. Third, if the
impairment is severe, the ALJ must consider whether the
impairment meets or is medically or functionally equal to a
disability listed in the Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the “Listings”).
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(d). Under the third
step, a child's impairment is medically equal to a listed
impairment if it is at least equal in severity and duration
to the medical criteria of the listed impairment. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.926(a). To determine whether an impairment is
functionally equal to a disability included in the Listings,
the ALJ must assess the child's developmental capacity in
six specified domains. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.926a(b)(1). The six domains are: 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.
416.926a(b)(1); See also, Moore ex rel. Moore v.
Barnhart, 413 F.3d 718, 722 n. 4 (8th Cir. 2005).
child claiming SSI benefits has marked limitations in two
categories or an extreme limitation in one category, the
child's impairment is functionally equal to an impairment
in the Listings. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(d). A
marked limitation is defined as an impairment that is
“more than moderate” and “less than
extreme.” A marked limitation is one which seriously
interferes with a child's ability to independently
initiate, sustain, or complete activities. See 20
C.F.R. 416.926a(e)(2). An extreme limitation is defined as
“more than marked, ” and exists when a
child's impairment(s) interferes very seriously with his
or her ability to independently initiate, sustain, or
complete activities. Day-to-day functioning may be very
seriously limited when an impairment(s) limits only one
activity or when the interactive and cumulative effects of
the impairment(s) limits several activities. See 20
C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(3).
raises three issues on appeal: 1) the minor child's
kidney disorders medically equal Listing 106.08; 2) the ALJ
failed to consider approximately one hundred sixty (160)
pages of medical evidence; and 3) the ALJ failed to provide
legally sufficient ...