United States District Court, E.D. Arkansas, Northern Division
PROPOSED FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDED
VOLPE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
recommended disposition has been submitted to United States
District Judge D.P Marshall Jr. The parties may file specific
objections to these findings and recommendations and must
provide the factual or legal basis for each objection. The
objections must be filed with the Clerk no later than
fourteen (14) days from the date of the findings and
recommendations. A copy must be served on the opposing party.
The district judge, even in the absence of objections, may
reject these proposed findings and recommendations in whole
or in part.
Amelia Mask, on behalf of her minor son, EKM, has appealed
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration to deny her claim for supplemental security
income. Both parties have submitted briefs and the case is
ready for a decision.
previously found to be disabled under the Social Security Act
on May 10, 2012 - the comparison point decision (CPD). (Tr.
251.) The Commissioner determined EKM had the medically
determinable impairments of Bartter's syndrome,
growth delays, and speech delays, and these impairments
medically equaled Listing 111.09. (Id.) However,
upon a disability review, the Commissioner determined he was
no longer disabled as of October 1, 2015, because he had
medically improved and did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments meeting or equaling an impairment
listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
determine whether a claimant under the age of 18 continues to
be disabled, the Commissioner uses a three-step evaluation
process. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.994a(b). The ALJ
first found EKM had experienced medical improvement with his
impairments as of October 1, 2015. (Tr. 252-258.) She next
determined EKM's impairments - that previously medically
equaled Listing 111.09 at the time of the CPD - no longer met
or medically equaled Listing 111.09 as of October 1, 2015.
(Tr. 258.) She also determined EKM's impairments did not
functionally equal a Listing. (Id.) Finally, the ALJ
found that, considering EKM's combined impairments, he
has not met, medically equaled, or functionally equaled a
listing since October 1, 2015. (Tr. 270.) Accordingly, the
ALJ found EKM's disability ended as of October 1, 2015,
and he has not become disabled again since that date.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
making the ALJ's decision final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-5). Plaintiff initiated the instant
Complaint challenging the decision of the Commissioner. (Doc.
support of the Complaint, Plaintiff says, “The ALJ
erred in failing to give opinions of Dr. Gray the weight they
are entitled to under the treating physician's
rule.” (Doc. No. 12 at 9.) Adam C. Gray, M.D., has been
EKM's treating physician for nearly his entire life. (Tr.
1251.) He is a family doctor but completed a residency in
nephrology. (Tr. 323-324.) Plaintiff seemed very genuine in
her description of Dr. Gray as “an amazing
practitioner.” (Tr. 324.)
Gray submitted a Child's Medical/Functional Assessment.
(Tr. 1093-1095.) Dr. Gray's assessment reports that EKM
is extremely limited by his Bartter's Syndrome.
(Id.) If Dr. Gray's assessment was given great
weight, EKM would likely be considered disabled.
evaluating Dr. Gray's assessment, the ALJ gave Dr.
Gray's report little weight and concluded:
In reaching a decision in this case, the undersigned has also
considered the opinion(s) expressed by the primary care
physician, Dr. Adam Gray in Exhibits 28F and 33F. However,
for reasons as stated or outline [sic] in significant detail
within this decision above, the undersigned finds the
opinion(s) of Dr. Gray inconsistent with the evidence of
record as a whole, including some degree of internal
inconsistency with some of Dr. Gray's own records
regarding the overall persistence and/or severity of symptoms
since on or about October 1, 2015. Specifically, upon a
thorough consideration of the objective medical evidence as a
whole, as included above, the undersigned Administrative Law
Judge does not find support for the degree of functional
limitations advocated or assessed by Dr. Gray. Notably, in
Exhibit 28, Dr. Gray opines “extreme” limitations
in overall functioning (Ex. 28F/3), but alternatively states
that Bartter's Syndrome results in only “occasional
extreme “and “frequent moderate”
limitations. No other physician or medical specialist
involved in the claimant's care, and no teacher involved
with the claimant in the classroom, has ever suggested or
opined such severe functional limitations. Additionally,
there is no evidence from which to conclude the claimant has
manifested such severe functional limitations either at home,
or in and academic setting. Finally, as addressed in detail
above, records provided through the claimant's treating
specialists at Arkansas Children's Hospital or other
medical specialist facilities, appear to repeatedly reference
normal physical examination findings.
carefully reviewed the overall evidence of record. This case
is an extremely difficult one because of the sympathetic
nature of the claim and the genuine testimony of EKM's
family. And from a practical matter, it is without question
that EKM has chronic issues from Bartter's syndrome.
However, given ...