United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Texarkana Division
MEGAN C. GENTRY On behalf of G.H. A MINOR PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
BARRY A. BRYANT, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
C. Gentry (“Plaintiff”) brings this action on
behalf of G.H., a minor, pursuant to § 205(g) of Title
II of the Social Security Act (“The Act”), 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) (2010), seeking judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) terminating G.H.'s
award of Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
under Title XVI of the Act.
Parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a magistrate
judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case,
including conducting the trial, ordering the entry of a final
judgment, and conducting all post-judgment proceedings. ECF
No. 5. Pursuant to this authority, the Court
issues this memorandum opinion and orders the entry of a
final judgment in this matter.
initial disability determination dated July 26, 2010, G.H.
was found to be disabled as of February 1, 2010. (Tr. 12). On
May 19, 2014, it was determined G.H. was no longer disabled
as of May 1, 2014. Id. This determination was upheld
on reconsideration. Id. Thereafter, Plaintiff
requested a video hearing before an ALJ. Id. On
February 26, 2016, the ALJ held a video hearing. Id.
Plaintiff and G.H. testified at this hearing. Id.
Plaintiff was not represented by counsel at this hearing.
September 23, 2016, the ALJ entered a fully unfavorable
decision denying Plaintiff's request for continued SSI
benefits on behalf of G.H. (Tr. 9-26). In this decision, the
ALJ determined the most recent favorable medical finding that
G.H. was disabled was the decision dated July 26, 2010. (Tr.
15, Finding 1). This is known as the “comparison point
decision” or CPD. Id. At the time of the CPD,
G.H. had the following medically determinable impairments:
mood disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). (Tr.
15-16, Finding 2). The ALJ noted these impairments were found
to be functionally equal the listings (20 CFR 416.924(d) and
416.926(a)). (Tr. 15-16, Finding 2).
found medical improvement occurred as of May 1, 2014. (Tr.
16, Finding 3). The ALJ determined G.H. was born on January
25, 2000 and was an adolescent as of May 1, 2014 and was
currently an adolescent. (Tr. 16, Finding 4). The ALJ also
determined that since May 1, 2014, the impairments G.H. had
at the time of the CPD were not functionally equivalent to
the Listings. (Tr. 16-25, Finding 5). The ALJ also determined
the medical and other evidence established G.H. did not have
an impairment at the CPD that was not considered at that time
and has not developed any additional impairments subsequent
to the CPD. (Tr. 25, Finding 6).
determined that since May 1, 2014, G.H. did not have an
impairment that met, medically equaled, or was functionally
equivalent to the requirements of any of the Listing of
Impairments. (Tr. 25-26, Findings 7-8). Based upon these
findings, the ALJ determined G.H.'s disability ended as
of May 1, 2014, and G.H. had not become disabled again since
that date. (Tr. 26, Finding 9).
Plaintiff requested the Appeals Council's review of the
ALJ's unfavorable decision. On July 20, 2017, the Appeals
Council declined to review this unfavorable decision. (Tr.
1-3). On August 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed the present appeal.
ECF No. 1. The Parties consented to the jurisdiction of this
Court on August 14, 2017. ECF No. 5. Both Parties have filed
appeal briefs. ECF Nos. 13-14. This case is now ready for
reviewing this case, this Court is required to determine
whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole. See
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2006); Ramirez v. Barnhart,
292 F.3d 576, 583 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance of the evidence, but it is enough
that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the
Commissioner's decision. See Johnson v. Apfel,
240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir. 2001). 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. See Haley v.
Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001). 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. See Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065,
1068 (8th Cir. 2000).
case, Plaintiff is seeking disability benefits on behalf of a
minor child. On August 22, 1996, Congress enacted the
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
Act of 1996, Public Law No. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105 (1996)
(codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)), which provided
a more stringent standard for determining eligibility for
Title XVI childhood disability benefits than the old law and
prior regulations required. See Rucker v. Apfel, 141
F.3d 1256, 1259 (8th Cir. 1998); 142 Cong. Rec. H8913; H.R.
Conf. Rep. No. 725, 104th Cong. 2d Sess. 328 (1996),
reprinted in 1996 U.S. Code, Cong. and Ad. News 2649, 2716;
Federal Register, Vol. 62, No. 28, p. 6409.
other things, the new law amended Section 1614(a)(3) of the
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3), and changed the statutory
definition of disability for individuals under age eighteen
(18) under the SSI program. Under the new standard, a child
is entitled to disability benefits only if 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 12 months. See Pub. L. No. 104-193 §
211(a)(4)(c); 20 C.F.R. § 416.906. The new standard
applies to all applicants who filed claims on or after August
22, 1996, or whose claims had not been finally adjudicated by
August 22, 1996. Since Plaintiff was filed after that date,
the new law applies.
the new law, the ALJ's disability determination is based
upon a three-step analysis. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.924. First, the ALJ must determine whether the minor
child has engaged in substantial gainful activity. If not,
the ALJ will proceed to the second step where the ALJ must
consider whether the child has a severe impairment. If a
severe impairment is found, the ALJ will proceed to the third
step. At this step, the ALJ, must consider whether the
impairment meets, or is medically or functionally equivalent,
to a disability listing in the Listing of Impairments
(“Listings”), See 20 C.F.R. pt. 404,
subpt. P, app. 1. A minor child may be disabled if his or her
impairment is ...