United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
D. NOCE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
action is before the Court for judicial review of the final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
denying the application of plaintiff Jokesha Bell for
child's disability insurance benefits and supplemental
security income benefits (SSI) under Titles II and XVI,
respectively, of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
401, et seq. The parties have consented to the
exercise of plenary authority by a United States Magistrate
Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons
set forth below, the decision of the Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) is affirmed.
Jokesha Bell, applied for Title II and Title XVI benefits on
June 8, 2015, at the age of 18. (Tr. 181-200). She alleged
that she became disabled beginning November 9, 1996, due to
“understanding, SSD classes, asthma, and
scoliosis.” (Tr. 15, 181, 197, 219). Plaintiff's
application was initially denied in September 2015. (Tr.
September 2015, plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ.
(Tr. 114-16). The ALJ heard testimony from plaintiff,
plaintiff's grandmother, and a vocational expert in May
2017. (Tr. 30-66). In September 2017, the ALJ found that
plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 15-25). Subsequently, in May
2017, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for
review. (Tr. 1-6). Thus, the decision of the ALJ stands as
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.
following is a summary of plaintiff's medical history
relevant to this appeal. Plaintiff was diagnosed with mild
mental retardation as a child and received special education
services in public schools. A Special Education Report from
Jefferson County, Colorado, Public Schools, dated August
2005, contained a WISC-IV Test with a performance score of 67,
and a full-scale IQ of 65, with a verbal score of 65. (Tr.
306). A Woodstock-Johnson III test was administered, with low
results as well. (Tr. 310). The Report also referred to a
December 2003 test, where plaintiff received a performance
score of 74, a full-scale IQ of 64, and a verbal score of 58.
December 2014, shortly after plaintiff turned 18,
psychologist Paul Rexroat, Ph.D., found that plaintiff's
IQ was significantly higher than the school testing had
indicated, giving her a full-scale IQ score of 72. (Tr.
340-45). Dr. Rextroat also reviewed plaintiff's school
records and previous IQ assessments. (Tr. 22-23, 340-41). He
found that plaintiff could perform simple tasks and had only
mild limitations interacting socially and adapting to her
environment. (Tr. 344-45). Dr. Rexroat diagnosed borderline
February 2015, Ms. Sonya Williams, M.A., a licensed
professional counselor, completed a Service Plan, and
assigned plaintiff a Children's Global Scale (C-GAS)
score of 45 and a Global Assessment of Relational
Functioning (GARF) score of 61. (Tr. 441-42). In March and May
of 2015, the same tests were administered again, and
plaintiff scored 45 and 61, and 53 and 65, respectively. (Tr.
438-40, 443). Ms. Williams indicated that the C-GAS score
increased to reflect an increase in plaintiff's overall
level of family functioning, with improved self-esteem,
self-perception, and self-care related activities. (Tr. 443).
Accordingly, Ms. Williams assessed that plaintiff only had
mild retardation and focused on treating plaintiff as a
neglected child. (Tr. 23, 357-400, 438-39, 441).
September 2015, Margaret Sullivan, Ph.D., a psychologist,
reviewed the school records along with those of Dr. Rexroat,
and similarly concluded that plaintiff could perform simple
tasks and adapt to changes in a setting that did not require
frequent public contact. (Tr. 73-74, 76-81).
lives with her grandmother and some of her siblings. At the
hearing before the ALJ, plaintiff's grandmother, Joyce
Anne Collins, testified that plaintiff does not understand
many things, and lacks independence. (Tr. 53-54). In a report
through plaintiff's attorney, Ms. Collins also stated
that plaintiff needs verbal directions for everything she
does and lacks self-esteem. (Tr. 226). She reported that
plaintiff has difficulty concentrating and completing tasks
and keeps to herself most of the time. (Tr. 226). Plaintiff
has a driver's permit. (Id.). However, Ms.
Collins stated that plaintiff runs stop signs because she
forgets to look and requires verbal reminders. (Tr. 226).
graduating high school, plaintiff obtained a job as a bagger
in a supermarket, working six- to eight-hour shifts, three to
four days per week. (Tr. 39, 56, 63). Plaintiff testified
that a job coach assisted her with employment. (Tr. 20-22).
Plaintiff also stated that she retained the ability to help
care for her younger siblings, maintain her own personal
care, prepare meals, clean, vacuum, do laundry, drive, shop,
watch television, use the internet, and spend time with her
family. (Tr. 36, 42-43, 45-48, 227-30, 235).
DECISION OF THE ALJ
One, the ALJ found that plaintiff has never engaged in
substantial gainful employment. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1571 et seq., 416.971 et seq. Although
plaintiff has been employed as a bagger since 2016, that work
does not rise to the level of substantial gainful activity
because it is part-time. (Tr. 17-18).
Two, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the severe impairment
of borderline intellectual functioning. (Tr. 18). Although
plaintiff has asthma and scoliosis, an August 2015
consultative evaluation revealed that they only cause her
minimal limitations and are therefore not severe.
Three, the ALJ found that plaintiff does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals
any listed impairment. (Tr. 18-21). The ALJ specifically
considered Listing 12.05 for intellectual functioning, 20
C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1 § 12.05, and ...