United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division
TAMIKA WILLIAMS, o.b.o. N.W., a minor, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S
KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.
Williams (“Williams”), on behalf of her child
N.W. (“N.W.”), petitions for review of an adverse
decision by Defendant, the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”). N.W.'s mother
applied for supplemental security income under Title XVI of
the Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381-1383f, on behalf of N.W.
The administrative law judge (“ALJ”) found N.W.
had one severe impairment, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
Disorder (“ADHD”). The ALJ found that this
impairment did not functionally equal the severity of the
explained below, the Court finds the ALJ's opinion is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole.
The Commissioner's decision is therefore AFFIRMED.
and Factual Background
complete facts and arguments are presented in the
parties' briefs and are repeated here only to the extent
filed the pending application on July 18, 2012, alleging a
disability onset date of July 26, 2009. The Commissioner
denied the applications at the initial claim level, and
Williams appealed the denial to an ALJ. On January 7, 2014,
the ALJ held a hearing in which Williams amended the alleged
disability onset date to Plaintiff's application date,
July 18, 2012.On February 21, 2014, the ALJ issued a
decision finding N.W. was not disabled. The Appeals Council
denied Williams' request for review on June 5, 2015,
leaving the ALJ's decision as the Commissioner's
final decision. Williams has exhausted all administrative
remedies and judicial review is now appropriate under 42
U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).
federal court's review of the Commissioner's decision
to deny disability benefits is limited to determining whether
the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence on the record as a whole. Chaney v. Colvin,
812 F.3d 672, 676 (8th Cir. 2016). Substantial evidence is
less than a preponderance, but is enough evidence that a
reasonable mind would find it sufficient to support the
Commissioner's decision. Id. In making this
assessment, the court considers evidence that detracts from
the Commissioner's decision, as well as evidence that
supports it. Id. The court must “defer
heavily” to the Commissioner's findings and
conclusions. Wright v. Colvin, 789 F.3d 847, 852
(8th Cir. 2015). The court may reverse the Commissioner's
decision only if it falls outside of the available zone of
choice; a decision is not outside this zone simply because
the evidence also points to an alternate outcome. Buckner
v. Astrue, 646 F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2011).
Commissioner follows a three-step sequential evaluation
process to determine whether a child is disabled. This
three-step sequence considers whether: (1) the child is
engaged in any substantial gainful activity; (2) the child
has an impairment that is “severe”; and (3) the
child's impairment is medically or functionally
equivalent in severity to an impairment listed in the
disability regulations. Moore ex rel. Moore v.
Barnhart, 413 F.3d 718, 721 (8th Cir. 2005) (citing 20
C.F.R. § 416.924).
Williams only contests the functional equivalency of
N.W.'s impairment, and the Court only addresses the third
step of the evaluation. See Moore, 413 F.3d at 721.
At step three, the ALJ found that N.W. had a marked
limitation in “acquiring and using information, ”
but a less-than-marked limitation in “attending and
completing tasks.” Williams argues the latter finding was
not supported by substantial evidence. Specifically, she
asserts the ALJ erred by: (1) failing to address the findings
of N.W.'s treating providers; (2) assigning little weight
to the opinions of Plaintiff's teachers; (3) relying on
the opinions of non-examining physicians; and (4) coming to a
conclusion that was inconsistent with Plaintiff's school
records. As outlined below, these arguments are without
The ALJ properly addressed the findings of N.W.'s
first argues the ALJ “fail[ed] to address the findings
of N.W.'s treating providers.” Pl.'s Br. 17
(Doc. 8). Specifically, Williams argues the ALJ failed to
take into consideration the opinions of several medical
professionals indicating that N.W. had a marked limitation in
attending and completing tasks. Id. at 15.
ALJ is not required to discuss all the evidence submitted,
and an ALJ's failure to cite specific evidence does not
indicate that it was not ...