United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiff's appeal of an
adverse determination by the Social Security Administration.
Social Security Administration denied plaintiff LaRhonda
Jones' application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
filed on behalf of her son, D.J., pursuant to Title XVI of
the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1381, et
seq., in which plaintiff claimed D.J. became disabled in
2006. Previous applications for SSI filed by plaintiff on
behalf of D.J. were denied by the Social Security
Administration. Oral hearings were held before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on November 20, 2013 and April
9, 2014. Testimony was heard from LaRhonda Jones, D.J and Dr.
Reid, a medical expert.
2, 2014, the ALJ denied plaintiff's claim for benefits
finding D.J.'s severe impairments of attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic otitis media not to
cause limitations which would render him disabled. On
December 14, 2015, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 1-5.) The
ALJ's decision is thus the final decision of the
Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
now seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's final
decision arguing that the ALJ failed to follow the directives
in the Order and Judgment of this Court regarding D.J's
diagnosis of pervasive development disorder, (PDD).
found D.J. to be a school-aged child and not to have engaged
in substantial gainful activity at any time relevant to the
decision. The ALJ found D.J.'s impairments of ADHD and
chronic otitis media to be severe. The ALJ found, however,
that D.J. did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of
Listing 102.10 (Hearing Loss) or Listing 112.11 (ADHD). The
ALJ also found that D.J. did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that functionally equaled the
Listings. The ALJ thus determined D.J. not to have been
disabled at any time since the filing of the application.
claimant under the age of eighteen is considered disabled and
eligible for SSI under the Social Security Act if he
“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.” 42 U.S.C. §
1382c(a)(3)(C)(I). With respect to determining the disability
of a child-claimant, “the Commissioner of Social
Security shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that a
qualified pediatrician or other individual who specializes in
a field of medicine appropriate to the disability of the
individual (as determined by the Commissioner of Social
Security) evaluates the case of such individual.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(I).
Commissioner is required to undergo a three-step sequential
evaluation process when determining whether a child is
entitled to SSI benefits. First, the Commissioner must
determine whether the child is engaged in substantial gainful
activity. If not, the Commissioner must then determine
whether the child's impairment, or combination of
impairments, is severe. Finally, if the child's
impairment(s) is severe, the Commissioner must determine
whether such impairment(s) meets, medically equals or
functionally equals the severity of an impairment listed in
Appendix 1 of Subpart P of Part 404 of the Regulations. 20
C.F.R. § 416.924(a); Garrett ex rel. Moore v.
Barnhart, 366 F.3d 643, 647 (8th Cir. 2004). If the
impairment(s) meets or medically equals a Listing, the child
is disabled. Garrett, 366 F.3d at 647. If a
child's impairment does not meet or medically equal a
listed impairment, the Commissioner will assess all
functional limitations caused by the child's impairment
to determine whether the impairment functionally equals the
Listings. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a.
functionally equal a listed impairment, the child's
condition must result in an “extreme” limitation
of functioning in one broad area of functioning, or
“marked” limitations of functioning in two broad
areas of functioning. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(a). The
domains are “broad areas of functioning intended to
capture all of what a child can or cannot do.” 20
C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1).
domains used by the Commissioner in making such a
determination 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 Oneself; and 6) Health and Physical Well-Being.
Id. If this analysis shows the child not to have an
impairment which is functionally equal in severity to a
listed impairment, the ALJ must find the child not disabled.
Oberts o/b/o Oberts v. Halter, 134 F.Supp.2d 1074,
1082 (E.D. Mo. 2001). The Commissioner's findings are
conclusive upon this Court if they are supported by
substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Young v.
Shalala, 52 F.3d 200 (8th Cir. 1995) (citing Woolf v.
Shalala, 3 F.3d 1210, 1213 (8th Cir. 1993)). Substantial
evidence is less than a preponderance but enough that a
reasonable person would find it adequate to support the
conclusion. Briggs v. Callahan, 139 F.3d 606, 608
(8th Cir. 1998). In evaluating the substantiality of the
evidence, the Court must consider evidence which supports the
Commissioner's decision as well as any evidence which
fairly detracts from the decision. Id. Where
substantial evidence supports the Commissioner's
decision, the decision may not be reversed merely because
substantial evidence may support a different outcome.
case, plaintiff claims that the ALJ's decision was in
error because he did not find D. J.'s PDD a medically
determinable impairment. When determining functional
limitations, 20 C.F.R. § 416 .926a(a) provides that
where a severe impairment or combination of impairments does
not meet or medically equal any listing, the limitations will
“functionally equal the listings” when the
impairment(s) “result in ‘marked' limitations
in two domains of functioning or an ‘extreme'
limitation in one domain.” The ALJ considers how a
plaintiff functions in activities in the following six
domains: “(i) Acquiring and using information; (ii)
Attending and completing tasks; (iii) Interacting and
relating to others; (iv) Moving about and manipulating
objects; (v) Caring for yourself; and, (vi) Health and
physical well-being.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1).
An impairment(s) is of listing-level severity if a plaintiff
has “marked” limitations in two of the domains in
paragraph (b)(1) or an “extreme” limitation in
one domain. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(d). Patrick v.
Astrue, No. 4:08CV255-DJS, 2009 WL 2487131, at *6 (E.D.
Mo. Aug. 13, 2009).
argues that the ALJ did not properly consider the evidence
before him, rather he relied on the testimony of James Reid,
Ph.D. who testified that he was uncomfortable with the PDD
diagnosis, but found that D.J. suffered from a behavior
specifically details his reasoning for crediting Dr.
Reid's testimony. Dr. Reid noted that none of the results
of the studies from TouchPoint were reported to D. J's
school. Likewise, there is no evidence to establish that