M. v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn on 1/16/13. (CTS, )
2013 Jan-16 AM 09:34
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
P.M., as mother and next friend of N.M., a )
) CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:12-CV-0784-SLB
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE,
Commissioner of Social Security,
The plaintiff, P.M., brings this action on behalf of her son, N.M. 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
DONE and ORDERED this 16th day of January, 2013.
SHARON LOVELACE BLACKBURN
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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