United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Elizabeth A. Stafford Judge
OPINION AND ORDER ACCEPTING THE MAGISTRATE
JUDGE'S RECOMMENDATION , DENYING PLAINTIFF'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT , AND GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 
J. MICHELSON U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
born about two months early. Due to medical conditions
associated with his prematurity, he stayed in the hospital
for about two months. Shortly after MBS got home, he
experienced problems with breathing and digesting food.
this time, MBS's mother applied-on MBS's behalf-for
supplemental-security income on the basis that MBS was
disabled under the Social Security Act. In August 2015, when
MBS was 24 months old, an administrative law judge issued a
lengthy opinion finding that MBS was not disabled under the
Social Security Act from birth through the time of his
decision. When further administrative review was denied, the
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security.
Ayala, MBS's grandmother and guardian, appealed to
federal court. All pretrial matters were referred to
Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Stafford. The Magistrate Judge
has recommended that this Court affirm the decision of the
objects to that recommendation. Having considered anew the
issues raised by her objections, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3), the Court will
overrule Ayala's objections and affirm the
Commissioner's disability determination.
child to be found “disabled” under the Social
Security Act, the child's impairments must meet,
medically equal, or functionally equal one of the impairments
listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, or, in
Social Security parlance, the “listings.”
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924.
does not take issue with the ALJ's finding that MBS's
impairments neither met nor medically equaled a listing.
Ayala instead attacks the ALJ's finding that MBS's
impairments did not functionally equal a listed impairment.
functionally equal a listing, a child must either have
“marked” limitation in two, or an
“extreme” limitation in one, of the following 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)
self-care, and (6) health and physical well-being.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(d).
found that MBS had no limitation or less-than-marked
limitation in all six domains. (See R. 23, PID
1179-93.) As most relevant here, the ALJ found that MBS had
“no limitation in interacting and relating to
others” and “less than marked limitation in
health and physical well-being.” (R. 23, PID 1189,
heart of Ayala's appeal (and her objections) is that the
ALJ erred in rating these two domains. She claims that MBS
had “extreme, ” or at least “marked,
” limitation in the domain of interacting and relating
with others. (See R. 19, PID 1143-47; R. 30, PID
2304-07.) She makes a similar claim about the domain of
health and physical well-being. (See R. 19, PID
1138-43; R. 30, PID 2303-04.) The Court starts with
Ayala's first claim.
interacting-and-relating-with-others domain required the ALJ
to consider, among other things, how well MBS
“initiat[ed] and respond[ed] to exchanges with other
people, for practical or social purposes” and how well
MBS related to others by “forming intimate
relationships with family members and with friends [his] age,
and sustaining them over time.” 20 C.F.R. §§
416.926a(i)(1)(i), (i)(1)(ii). Thus, difficulty with nonverbal
or verbal ...