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McCleary v. Saul

United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma

July 24, 2019

LAWANNA McCLEARY O/B/O A.T.M. minor, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, [1] Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          FRANK H. MCCARTHY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Judicial review of a decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying Social Security disability benefits is sought in this action.[2] The matter has been referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for report and recommendation.

         Standard of Review

         The role of the court in reviewing the decision of the Commissioner under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) is limited to a determination of whether the record as a whole contains substantial evidence to support the decision and whether the correct legal standards were applied. See Briggs ex rel. Briggs v. Massanari, 248 F.3d 1235, 1237 (10th Cir. 2001); Winfrey v. Chater, 92 F.3d 1017 (10th Cir. 1996); Castellano v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 26 F.3d 1027, 1028 (10th Cir. 1994). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla, less than a preponderance, and is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court may neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner. Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799, 800 (10th Cir. 1991). Even if the court would have reached a different conclusion, if supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's decision stands. Hamilton v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 961 F.2d 1495 (10th Cir. 1992).

         Background

         Plaintiff was 13 years old at the time of the alleged onset of disability and 16 years old on the date of the ALJ's denial decision. He claims to have been disabled since March 1, 2014 as a result of asthma, allergic rhinitis, depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

         Sequential Evaluation for Child's Disability Benefits

         The procedures for evaluating disability for children are set out at 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). The first step is to determine whether the child is performing substantial gainful activity. If not, the next consideration is whether the child has a “severe” mental or physical impairment. A “severe” impairment is one that causes more than minimal functional limitations. If a “severe” impairment is identified, the claim is reviewed to determine whether the child has an impairment that: 1) meets, medically equals, or functionally equals the listings of impairments for children;[3] and 2) meets the duration requirement.

         If the child does not have impairments of a severity to meet a listing, the severity of the limitations imposed by impairments are analyzed to determine whether they functionally equal a listing. Six broad areas of functioning, called domains, are considered to assess what a child can and cannot do. Impairments functionally equal a listing when the impairments result in “marked” limitations in two domains or an “extreme” limitation in one domain. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a. The six domains 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 yourself; and 6) health and physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1). A limitation is “marked” when it interferes seriously with the ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(2)(I). An “extreme” limitation interferes very seriously with the ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(3)(I).

         The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ determined that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or a combination of impairments that meet or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. The ALJ also determined that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that functionally equals the severity of the listings. In this regard the ALJ found that Plaintiff has less than marked limitation in the domain of acquiring and using information; he has less than marked limitation in the domain of attending and completing tasks, he has a marked limitation in the domain of interacting and relating with others, no limitation in the domain of moving about and manipulating objects, less than marked limitation in the domain of the ability to care for himself, and less than marked limitation in the domain of health and physical well-being. Since Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that result in either “marked” limitation in two domains of functioning or an “extreme” limitation in one domain of functioning, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has not been disabled as that term is defined in the Social Security Act since October 30, 2014, the date the application for benefits was filed.

         Plaintiff's Allegations

         Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ did not properly consider all of his impairments and that the ALJ improperly ...


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