United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (SSA) denying E.K.W.'s (a minor child)
application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under
Title XVI of the Act. Chandra Carter is pursuing this matter
on behalf of the minor and pursuant to § 405(g) of Title
II of the Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. §§
1381, et seq. The Court has reviewed the briefs
filed by the parties and the entire administrative record,
including the transcript and medical evidence. For the
reasons set forth below, the denial of E.K.W's
application will be affirmed.
filed an application for children's SSI on behalf of her
minor son E.K.W. on December 18, 2015, alleging a disability
onset date of December 1, 2015. The application was initially
denied on February 25, 2016. Plaintiff requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on May 12, 2016.
November 30, 2017, a hearing was held. Plaintiff waived her
right to counsel. Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a
decision on February 13, 2018 finding that plaintiff was not
disabled under the Act. Plaintiff filed a Request for Review
of Hearing Decision/Order and on September 13, 2018, the
Appeals Council denied her request for review. The decision
of the ALJ stands as the final decision of the Commissioner.
Evidence and Testimony
January 10, 2015, E.K.W. presented to People's Health
Centers for a well child exam. This was his first visit to
People's Health Centers. He was examined by Dr. Sarah
Bryant. Plaintiff reported to Dr. Bryant that she was
concerned about E.K.W.'s behavior and activity, and that
E.K.W. was very active “all the time.” Dr. Bryant
discussed behavioral interventions with Plaintiff and
referred her to a child psychologist to discuss behavior
plans. Dr. Bryant noted that E.K.W. exhibited age-appropriate
behavior. E.K.W. “passed” all 4-year-old
developmental milestones, except for drawing people, which he
“failed, ” and playing well with others, which he
did “sometimes.” E.K.W.'s grade level was
pre-school; he was noted as performing at grade level and not
having a learning disability.
November 24, 2015, E.K.W. presented to People's Health
Centers for a well child checkup and behavior. Again, he was
examined by Dr. Bryant, who noted that E.K.W. exhibited
age-appropriate behavior and that all areas of development
were appropriate for his age. E.K.W. was attending full day
kindergarten, performing at grade level, and did not have a
learning disability; he also reported being suspended or
expelled. Plaintiff reported to Dr. Bryant that E.K.W.'s
behavior was a big problem in that E.K.W. was very
hyperactive, was running around all the time, and had been
getting aggressive with his teachers. Plaintiff stated that
E.K.W. exhibited similar behavior at home, though not as bad.
Plaintiff also reported that E.K.W. had similar behavioral
problems in pre-K. She reported that he hadn't been doing
anything “out of the ordinary” or
“aggressive” at home until that year, although he
would get into fights with his cousins. Dr. Bryant noted that
no IEP evaluation had been done, and that Plaintiff was
interested in in-home therapy services. Dr. Bryant's
patient plan for E.K.W. included completion of
“Vanderbilts, ” (presumably the ADHD Diagnostic
Rating Scales for parents and teachers, see, e.g.
Mark L. Wolraich et al., Psychometric Properties of the
Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Parent Rating Scale in a
Referred Population, J. of Pediatric Psychol.,
Volume 28, Issue 8, December 2003, 559- 568, available
at https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsg046) and returning
for a follow-up. She also noted that she should would refer
December 15, 2015, E.K.W. presented to People's Health
Centers for ADD/ADHD and was examined by Dr. Janelle
Spaulding. During the exam, E.K.W. was oriented to time,
place, person, and situation and exhibited age-appropriate
behavior. E.K.W. was attending full day kindergarten, was
performing at grade level, and did not have a learning
disability. All areas of development were noted as
appropriate for E.K.W.'s age. Plaintiff reported to Dr.
Spaulding that E.K.W. had behavior problems at home and
school that had persisted for more than six months. Plaintiff
reported continuing issues at school, including E.K.W.'s
one-day suspension the week prior, and noted that E.K.W. was
pending IEP. Dr. Spaulding noted that the Vanderbilt scales
had been completed by a parent and by a teacher. Spaulding
assessed E.K.W. as having ADHD predominantly hyperactive
type, and started E.K.W. on Adderall XR 5 mg. E.K.W. was to
follow up in one month and pursue a behavioral therapist.
initial Disability Report (Form SSA-3820) dated December 29,
2015, Plaintiff listed People's Health Centers as
E.K.W.'s only medical provider and noted that
E.K.W.'s first visit to People's Health Centers was
in August 2015. Plaintiff also reported that E.K.W. was a
Kindergartener at Jamaa Learning Center beginning in August
2015 and listed no other educational history.
January 4, 2016, the Office of Special Education for St.
Louis Public Schools responded to an SSA request for
information, stating that it “[could] not locate
information indicating that [E.K.W.] received special
record contains a February 2, 2016 letter from Epworth Family
Support Network which indicates that E.K.W. was being seen by
a family therapist but contains no information about
assessment or treatment. A February 2, 2016 Authorization for
Release of Information between Epworth and Jessica Arteaga of
Grace Hill Home-Based Head Start Family Education is also
present in the record.
February 11, 2016, E.K.W.'s teacher at Jamaa Learning
Center, Megan Willard, wrote about her observations of E.K.W.
after being on ADHD medication. Willard wrote that she saw a
great difference in him, with E.K.W.'s ability to focus
his attention improving to all day instead of just moments
throughout the day. He had also calmed down and spoke in a
more understanding and respectable way. Willard noted that
E.K.W. was, however, sleeping more often in class and
complaining that he did not feel well, which could take up a
half to full day of learning. Willard also wrote that on days
that E.K.W. said he did not feel well and thus did not take
his medication, his behavior was uncontrollable because he
could not control his hyperactive body and mind and spoke
about unrealistic situations.
February 25, 2016, Linda Skolnick, a state psychological
consultant, submitted a Disability Determination Explanation
in E.K.W.'s case. Dr. Skolnick opined that E.K.W.'s
impairment of ADHD was severe, but did not meet, medically
equal, or functionally equal the SSA listings. Dr. Skolnick
found that E.K.W had some limitations in attending and
completing tasks and in interacting and relating with others,
but that these limitations were less than marked. Dr.
Skolnick noted that E.K.W.'s medical providers reported
that he performed at grade level in a regular educational
setting and exhibited age-appropriate behavior at medical
exams. She also noted that E.K.W. had recently started ADHD
medications, and noted Plaintiff's reports that E.K.W.
was active, had behavioral problems at home and school, and
sometimes fought his cousins.
Disability Report - Appeal (Form SSA-3441) dated May 13,
2016, Plaintiff wrote that E.K.W.'s medical condition
changed in January 2016 in that she “[has] to go to the
school every day. [E.K.W.] hit the teacher. He run[s] out of
the classroom. He can't stay focused. He hit[s] kids. He
doesn't follow directions. He gets angry and tears up
things.” She also noted that “[E.K.W.] is very
aggressive. He is angry. We don't know what is wrong with
him. When we try to talk to him he just cry. He has always
been like that, but it has gotten worse.” On the appeal
form, Plaintiff indicated that E.K.W. had received more
medical care since the initial application - People's
Health Centers was still listed as the only medical provider.
Plaintiff also listed Head Start - Grace Hill as an entity
with medical information about E.K.W., noting that
“Jessica came to the house for an hour two times a week
to do activities with him.” Plaintiff again listed
Jamaa Learning Center as E.K.W.'s school. She ...