United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
CRITES-LEONI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Stokes brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), seeking judicial review of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of her application
on behalf of her minor son, J.L.S. (“Plaintiff”),
for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act.
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that
Plaintiff's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
(“ADHD”) and oppositional defiant disorder
(“ODD”) were severe but did not meet or medically
equal an impairment contained in a listing pursuant to 20
C.F.R. § 416.926a. Consequently, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled.
matter is pending before the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge, with consent of the parties, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c). A summary of the entire record is
presented in the parties' briefs and is repeated here
only to the extent necessary.
following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner will be
Brown protectively filed an application for Child's SSI
on behalf of Plaintiff on December 10, 2013. (Tr. 238-43.)
She stated that Plaintiff was born in 2009, and alleged that
he became disabled beginning May 1, 2012, due to ADHD,
obsessive compulsive disorder (“OCD”) “odd
and violent behavior, ” and seizures. (Tr. 256.)
Plaintiff's claim was denied initially. (Tr. 128-31.)
Following an administrative hearing, Plaintiff's claim
was denied in a written opinion by an ALJ, dated November 10,
2015. (Tr. 102-22.) On September 13, 2016, after receiving
additional evidence, the Appeals Council remanded the matter
back to the ALJ for further development and a new decision.
(Tr. 123-27.) On July 20, 2017, following a second hearing,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not under a disability as
defined in the Act. (Tr. 17-37.) Plaintiff then filed a
request for review of the ALJ's decision with the Appeals
Council, which was denied on November 7, 2017. (Tr. 1-6.)
Thus, the July 20, 2017 decision of the ALJ stands as the
final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.981, 416.1481.
instant action, Plaintiff claims that the ALJ erred by
improperly “fail[ing] to rely on the treating
physician's opinion regarding functional
equivalence.” (Doc. 26 at 9.)
The ALJ's Determination
stated that Plaintiff was born on November 22, 2009, and was
a preschooler on the date his application was filed, and is
currently a school-age child. (Tr. 23.) Plaintiff has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 3,
2014, the application date. Id. The ALJ found that
Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: ADHD and ODD.
Id. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff does not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20
C.F.R. §§ 416.924, 416.925 and 416.926).
further found that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that functionally equals the
severity of the listings. (Tr. 24.) Specifically, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff has the following limitations: less than
marked limitation in his ability to acquire and use
information; marked limitation in his ability to attend and
complete tasks; less than marked limitation in his ability to
interact and relate with others; no limitation in his ability
to move about and manipulate objects; less than marked
limitation in his ability to care for himself; and no
limitation in his health or physical well-being. (Tr. 31-37.)
Finally, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been
disabled, as defined in the Social Security Act, since
January 3, 2014, the date the application was filed.
Standard of Review
decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed if it is
supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402
U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Estes v. Barnhart, 275 F.3d
722, 724 (8th Cir. 2002). Substantial evidence is less than a
preponderance of the evidence, but enough that a reasonable
person would find it adequate to support the conclusion.
Johnson v. Apfel, 240 F.3d 1145, 1147 (8th Cir.
2001). This “substantial evidence test, ”
however, is “more than a mere search of the record for
evidence supporting the Commissioner's findings.”
Coleman v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 767, 770 (8th Cir. 2007)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
“Substantial evidence on the record as a whole . . .
requires a more scrutinizing analysis.” Id.
(internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
Court must also consider any evidence which fairly detracts
from the Commissioner's decision. Coleman, 498
F.3d at 770; Warburton v. Apfel, 188 F.3d 1047, 1050
(8th Cir. 1999). However, even though two inconsistent
conclusions may be drawn from the evidence, the
Commissioner's findings may still be supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Pearsall
v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th Cir.
2001) (citing Young v. Apfel, 221 F.3d 1065, 1068
(8th Cir. 2000)). “[I]f there is substantial evidence
on the record as a whole, we must affirm the administrative
decision, even if the record could also have supported an
opposite decision.” Weikert v. Sullivan, 977
F.2d 1249, 1252 (8th Cir. 1992) (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted). See also Jones ex rel. Morris v.
Barnhart, 315 F.3d 974, 977 (8th Cir. 2003).