United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER
BERNARD A. FRIEDMAN SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is presently before the Court on defendant's
motion for summary judgment [docket entry 22]. Pursuant to
E.D. Mich. LR 7.1(f)(2), the Court shall decide this motion
without a hearing.
has brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to
challenge defendant's final decision denying the
applications she filed on behalf of her son, “TLJ,
” for Social Security child's disability and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. An
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) held a hearing
in July 2014 (Tr. 35-69) and issued a decision denying
benefits in September 2014 (Tr. 13-29). This became
defendant's final decision in February 2016 when the
Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review
supplemental brief filed at the Court's request,
defendant notes that TLJ received SSI benefits as a child
based on a determination that he met the criteria of a listed
impairment applicable to children (§ 111.07(A)) for
cerebral palsy. When TLJ turned 18 in November 2011,
defendant was required by the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C.
§ 1382c(a)(3)(H)(iii), to redertermine his eligibility
for disability benefits under the standards applicable to
adults. Defendant conducted the required redetermination in
June 2012 (Tr. 71-83) and concluded that TLJ is not disabled
because he does not meet the criteria of the applicable
listings (i.e., for cerebral palsy or learning disorder) and
he is able to do simple, light level work. Defendant states
that “[p]laintiff did not request further review of
this decision, ” Suppl. Br. at 2, and the Court sees
nothing in the record to contradict this statement.
December 2012, plaintiff filed applications on TLJ's
behalf for SSI benefits (Tr. 157-65) and child's
insurance benefits (Tr. 166-72). Both applications claim a
disability onset date of November 25, 1993, the date of
TLJ's birth. It is these applications that are
currently at issue, and the legal question raised in both is
the same: whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
decision that TLJ is not disabled because he does not meet
the criteria of the applicable listings and because he
retains the capacity to do simple, light level work. The
must affirm the Commissioner's findings if they are
supported by substantial evidence and the Commissioner
employed the proper legal standard. White, 572 F.3d
at 281 (citing 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)); Elam ex rel.
Golay v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 348 F.3d 124, 125 (6th
Cir. 2003); Walters v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 127
F.3d 525, 528 (6th Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence 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, L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (internal quotation marks omitted);
see also Kyle, 609 F.3d at 854 (quoting Lindsley
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.3d 601, 604 (6th Cir.
2009)). Where the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence, it must be upheld even if the record
might support a contrary conclusion. Smith v. Sec'y
of Health & Human Servs., 893 F.2d 106, 108 (6th
Cir. 1989). However, a substantiality of evidence evaluation
does not permit a selective reading of the record.
“Substantiality of the evidence must be based upon the
record taken as a whole. Substantial evidence is not simply
some evidence, or even a great deal of evidence. Rather, the
substantiality of evidence must take into account whatever in
the record fairly detracts from its weight.” Garner
v. Heckler, 745 F.2d 383, 388 (6th Cir. 1984) (internal
citations and quotation marks omitted).
Brooks v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 531 F. App'x
636, 640-41 (6th Cir. 2013).
time of his July 2014 hearing, TLJ was 20 years old (Tr. 40).
He has a high school education and no work experience (Tr.
He claims to be disabled since birth due to cerebral palsy
and “failure to thrive” (Tr. 196). At the
hearing, TLJ's mother also indicated TLJ
“doesn't stay on task, he doesn't complete his
job” (Tr. 59). The ALJ found that plaintiff's
severe impairments are “cerebral palsy; leg length
discrepancy; learning disorder; attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and borderline intellectual
functioning” (Tr. 18). The ALJ also found that TLJ does
not meet the criteria of Listings § 11.07 (cerebral
palsy), § 1.02 (major dysfunction of a joint), §
3.03 (asthma), or § 12.05 (intellectual disability), and
that he has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a limited range of simple,
light level work (Tr. 19-22). Based on testimony from a
vocational expert (“VE”), the ALJ concluded that
TLJ is not disabled because he could do packaging or
sorting/inspecting work within these limitations (Tr. 28).
reviewed the administrative record, defendant's summary
judgment motion, and the documents submitted by plaintiff in
lieu of a summary judgment motion, the Court concludes that
the ALJ's decision in this matter is not supported by
the ALJ's decision that TLJ does not meet the criteria of
Listed Impairment § 11.07 (cerebral palsy) or §
12.05 (intellectual disability) is not supported by
substantial evidence.At the time of the ALJ's decision,
Listing § 11.07 provided as follows:
11.07 Cerebral palsy. With:
A. IQ of 70 or less; or
B. Abnormal behavior patterns, such as destructiveness or
emotional instability; or
C. Significant interference in communication due to speech,
hearing, or visual defect; or
D. Disorganization of motor function as described in 11.04B.
And at the time of the ALJ's decision, Listing §
12.05 provided as follows:
12.05 Intellectual disability: Intellectual disability refers
to significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning
with deficits in adaptive functioning initially manifested
during the developmental period; i.e., the evidence
demonstrates or supports onset of the impairment before age
The required level of severity for this disorder is met when
the requirements in A, B, C, or D are satisfied.
A. Mental incapacity evidenced by dependence upon others for
personal needs (e.g., toileting, eating, dressing, or
bathing) and inability to follow directions, such that the
use of standardized measures of intellectual functioning is
B. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 59 or
C. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60
through 70 and a physical or other mental impairment imposing
an additional and significant work-related limitation of
D. A valid verbal, performance, or full scale IQ of 60
through 70, resulting in at least ...