United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
KENT, United States Magistrate Judge
Plaintiff brings this action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (Commissioner) denying her claim for social
security income (SSI).
was born in 2010. PageID.192. An application for SSI was
filed on behalf of plaintiff on January 31, 2014. PageID.38.
After administrative denial of plaintiff's claim, an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing, reviewed
plaintiff's claim de novo, and entered a
decision denying the claim on March 2, 2015 (AR 13-26). This
decision, which was later approved by the Appeals Council,
has become the final decision of the Commissioner and is now
before the court for review.
court's review of the Commissioner's decision is
typically focused on determining whether the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. §405(g); McKnight v.
Sullivan, 927 F.2d 241 (6th Cir. 1990).
“Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla of
evidence but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Cutlip v. Secretary of
Health & Human Services, 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir.
1994). A determination of substantiality of the evidence must
be based upon the record taken as a whole. Young v.
Secretary of Health & Human Services, 925 F.2d 146
(6th Cir. 1990).
scope of this review is limited to an examination of the
record only. This Court does not review the evidence de
novo, make credibility determinations or weigh the
evidence. Brainard v. Secretary of Health & Human
Services, 889 F.2d 679, 681 (6th Cir. 1989). The fact
that the record also contains evidence which would have
supported a different conclusion does not undermine the
Commissioner's decision so long as there is substantial
support for that decision in the record. Willbanks v.
Secretary of Health & Human Services, 847 F.2d 301,
303 (6th Cir. 1988). Even if the reviewing court would
resolve the dispute differently, the Commissioner's
decision must stand if it is supported by substantial
evidence. Young, 925 F.2d at 147.
claimant must prove that he suffers from a disability in
order to be entitled to benefits. “The proper inquiry
in an application for SSI benefits is whether the plaintiff
was disabled on or after her application date.”
Casey v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 987
F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993). An individual under the age
of 18 shall be considered disabled if the
child has a medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which results in marked and severe functional
limitations, and which can be expected to result in death, or
which has lasted, or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.
42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i).
There is a three step process in determining whether a child
is “disabled” under the new definition set forth
in the Act. First, the child must not be engaged in
substantial gainful activity; second, the child must have a
severe impairment; and third, the severe impairment must
meet, medically equal or functionally equal one of the
impairments found in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix
1. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924.
Elam ex rel. Golay v. Commissioner of Social
Security, 348 F.3d 124, 125 (6th Cir. 2003). See
also, Kelly v. Commissioner of Social Security,
314 Fed.Appx. 827, 832 (6th Cir. 2009) (listing framework for
a three-step inquiry).
a child's impairment functionally equals a listed
impairment is determined by a review of six
“domains” which measure the child's ability
to function: (i) acquiring and using information; (ii)
attending and completing tasks; (iii) interacting and
relating with others; (iv) moving about and manipulating
objects; (v) caring for yourself; and, (vi) health and
physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1). To
establish “functional equivalence” of a listed
impairment, the claimant has to show either
“marked” limitations in two domains of
functioning or an “extreme” limitation in one
domain. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(a). Under the regulations,
a “marked limitation” in a domain
“interferes seriously with your ability to
independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities,
” while an “extreme limitation” in a domain
‘interferes very seriously with your ability to
independently initiate, sustain, or complete
activities.” See § 416.926a(e)(2)(i) and
the three steps, the ALJ first found that plaintiff was born
in 2010, was a pre-schooler when the application was filed on
January 31, 2014, and is currently a pre-schooler under the
regulations, 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(g)(2). PageID.41.
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the application date. Id. Second, plaintiff
had the severe ...