Edwards v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner

Filing 10

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn on 1/16/13. (CTS, )

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FILED 2013 Jan-16 AM 09:39 U.S. DISTRICT COURT N.D. OF ALABAMA IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA SOUTHERN DIVISION MYEISHA EDWARDS, o/b/b L.C.M., Plaintiff, v. MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:11-CV-2855-SLB ) ) ) ) ) MEMORANDUM OPINION The plaintiff, Myeisha Edwards, brings this action on behalf of her son seeking judicial review of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the Commissioner). Plaintiff timely pursued and exhausted the administrative remedies available before the Commissioner. Accordingly, this case is now ripe for judicial review pursuant to the provisions of section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The definition of Child's SSI disability provides that a claimant under the age of eighteen shall be considered disabled if the claimant 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). The regulations define the statutory standard of "marked and severe functional limitations" in terms of "listing-level severity." 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.902, 416.906, 416.924(a), 416.926a(a); See 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1 (the listings). The Commissioner has developed a specific sequential evaluation process for determining whether a child claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924. The three-step process requires a child to show: (1) that he is not working; (2) that he has a "severe" impairment or combination of impairments; and (3) that his impairment or combination of impairments is of listing-level severity, that is, the impairments meet, medically equal, or functionally equal the severity of an impairment in the listings. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924. If a child claimant is not working and has a severe impairment, the ALJ must determine if the child’s impairments meet or medically equal an impairment listed in the listings. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a)-(d). If the child’s impairments do not meet or medically equal a listed impairment, the ALJ must then determine if the child's impairments are functionally equivalent in severity to a listed impairment. 20 C.F.R. §§ 416.924(d), 416.926a(a). For the child's impairments to functionally equal a listed impairment, the child's impairments must result in "marked" limitations in two domains of functioning or an "extreme" limitation in one domain. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(a). The ALJ considers the child's functioning in terms of 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 himself; and (6) health and physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1). The sole function of this court is to determine whether the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence and whether proper legal standards were applied. Bloodsworth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983). To that end this court “must scrutinize the record as a whole to determine if the decision reached is reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.” Bloodsworth, at 1239 (citations omitted). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Bloodsworth, at 1239. The court has carefully reviewed the entire record in this case and is of the opinion that the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence and that proper legal standards were applied in reaching that decision. Accordingly, the decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed. A separate order in conformity with this memorandum opinion will be entered. DONE and ORDERED this 16th day of January, 2013. SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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