United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Winchester
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
K. LEE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Arthea Kilcrease (“Plaintiff”) brought this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)
seeking judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”
or “Defendant”) denying her minor son
supplemental security income (“SSI”). Each party
has moved for judgment [Docs. 22 & 24] and filed
supporting briefs [Docs. 23 & 25]. This matter is now
ripe. For the reasons stated below, (1) Plaintiff's
motion for summary judgment [Doc. 22] will be
DENIED; (2) the Commissioner's motion
for summary judgment [Doc. 24] will be
GRANTED; and the decision of the
Commissioner will be AFFIRMED.
acting on behalf of her minor son (“Claimant”),
filed an application for SSI on December 6, 2012 [Doc. 14
(“Tr.”) at Page ID # 184-200], alleging
Claimant's disability began March 22, 2012 (Tr. 12, 126).
Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration at the agency level. After a hearing was held
August 3, 2015, the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) found on December 18, 2015, that Claimant
was not under a disability as defined in the Social Security
Act (Tr. 12-26). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner (Tr. 1-5). Plaintiff timely
filed the instant action [Doc. 1].
was born in 2006, making him a child under age 18 (Tr. 126).
In a Child Disability Report, Plaintiff alleged Claimant was
disabled due to a developmental disorder, possibly autism
(Tr. 149). Plaintiff [Doc. 23 at Page ID # 477-86] and the
ALJ (Tr. 15-19) set forth a detailed, factual summary of
Claimant's medical record, school record, and the hearing
testimony. Defendant generally adopts the facts as set forth
by the ALJ [Doc. 25 at Page ID # 503], but includes extensive
citation to the record throughout her argument [id.
at Page ID # 505-15].
teleconference hearing occurred on August 3, 2015, at which
Claimant and Plaintiff testified (Tr. 30-64). The Court has
carefully reviewed the transcript of the testimony.
ELIGIBILITY AND THE ALJ'S FINDINGS
will be considered disabled if he has a “medically
determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in
marked and severe functional limitations.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382c(a)(3)(C). To determine whether a child's
impairments result in marked and severe limitations, Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) regulations
prescribe a three-part evaluation:
(1) A child will be found “not disabled” if he
engages in substantial gainful activity.
(2) A child will be found “not disabled” if she
does not have a severe impairment or combination of
(3) A child will be found “disabled” if she has
an impairment or combination of impairments that meets,
medically equals, or functionally equals an impairment listed
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a)-(d).
determine whether a child's impairments functionally
equal a listing, the SSA assesses the functional limitations
caused by the child's impairments. 20 C.F.R. §
416.926a(a). To do so, the SSA considers how a child
functions in six domains:
(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). If a child's impairments
result in “marked” limitations in two domains, or
an “extreme” limitation in one domain, the
impairment functionally equals the listings, and the child is
considered disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(d). The SSA
will find a “marked” limitation in a domain when
a child's impairments “interferes seriously”
with the child's ability to “independently
initiate, sustain, or complete activities.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.926a(e)(2). It is the equivalent of the
functioning the SSA expects “to find on standardized
testing with scores that are at least two, but less than
three, standard deviations below the mean.”
Id. Extreme limitations interfere “very
seriously” with the child's ability to
“independently initiate, sustain, or complete
activities.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(3). It is the
equivalent of the functioning the SSA expects “to find
on standardized testing with scores that are at least three
standard deviations below the mean.” Id.
The ALJ's Findings
found Claimant was a preschooler on the date his application
was filed and was a school-age child at the time the ALJ
issued his decision; that Claimant had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since December 6, 2012, the date
the application was filed; and that Claimant suffered from the
following severe impairments: borderline intellectual
functioning/developmental delay (“BIF”), and an
anxiety-related disorder/post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”) (Tr. 15). Next, the ALJ found that
Claimant's impairments did not meet or medically equal
the severity of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1 (Tr. 15). The ALJ further found that
Claimant's impairments did not functionally equal the
listings because Claimant did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that resulted in two marked
limitations or one extreme limitation in the applicable
domains of functioning (Tr. 16-26). More specifically, the
ALJ found that Claimant has marked limitation in the domain
of interacting and relating with others, but “less than
marked” limitation in the remaining five domains.
Therefore, the ALJ found Claimant was not disabled under
section 1614(a)(3)(C) of the Social Security Act (Tr. 26).