United States District Court, W.D. Arkansas, Fort Smith Division
KIMBERLY CRISWELL O/B/O J.D.O. minor PLAINTIFF
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner Social Security Administration DEFENDANT
ERIN L. WIEDEMANN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Criswell brings this action on behalf of her minor child,
J.D.O., seeking judicial review, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (Commissioner) denying J.D.O.'s
application for child's supplemental security income
(SSI) benefits under 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. §405(g).
protectively filed the application for SSI on her minor child
J.D.O.'s behalf on September 29, 2015, alleging that
J.D.O., who was six years of age when the application was
filed, was disabled due to ADHD and Oppositional Defiant
Disorder. (Tr. 30, 204). An administrative hearing was held
on July 6, 2016, at which Plaintiff appeared with counsel and
testified. (Tr. 71-93).
written decision dated September 6, 2016 the ALJ found that
J.D.O. had the following impairments or combination of
impairments that were severe: ADHD and
Depression. (Tr. 33). However, the ALJ further found
that as J.D.O. did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that was medically or functionally equal to a
listed impairment, J.D.O. was not disabled. (Tr. 33-41).
then requested a review of the hearing decision by the
Appeals Council, which denied that request on January 17,
2017. (Tr. 1-6, 14-19).
Plaintiff filed this action. (Doc. 1). This case is before
the undersigned pursuant to the consent of the parties. (Doc.
7). Both parties have filed appeal briefs, and the case is
now ready for decision. (Docs. 14, 16).
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
K.H.'s claim failed at step three, as J.D.O. did not have
an impairment that met, or medically or functionally equaled,
a listed impairment. (Tr. 33).
the Court finds there is substantial evidence on the record
to support the ALJ's determination that J.D.O.'s
impairment 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 J.D.O.'s
impairments are functionally equal to any listed impairment,
or, in other words, whether “what [J.D.O.] cannot do
because of [his] 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).
equivalence may be established by demonstrating marked
limitations in two, or extreme limitations in one of the
following areas: acquiring and using information; attending
and completing tasks; interacting and relating with others;
moving about and manipulating objects; caring for yourself;
and 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.
determined that the facts in this case suggested that J.D.O.
has marked limitations in the area of acquiring and using
information; less than marked limitation in areas of
attending and completing tasks, interacting and relating with
others, and caring for himself; and no limitation in the
areas of moving about and manipulating objects, and health
and physical well-being. (Tr. 38-44). Plaintiff argues the
ALJ made errors in his assessment of J.D.O.'s limitations