United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Eastern Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
F. KEITH BALL, Magistrate Judge.
This social security benefits case is before the undersigned for a report and recommendation as to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment  and Defendant's Motion for an Order Affirming the Decision of the Commissioner .
Plaintiff's application for social security supplemental security income benefits, originally filed by his grandmother on his behalf, was denied initially and upon reconsideration. The claim was then denied by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on August 16, 2012,  at 10-36,  and the Appeals Council on November 5, 2013.  at 1. Plaintiff was a minor at the time the application for benefits was filed, but turned eighteen before the ALJ's decision.  at 10. The ALJ, therefore, considered both whether Plaintiff was disabled before the age of eighteen and whether Plaintiff was disabled at eighteen. Id.
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ applied the incorrect legal standard in evaluating Plaintiff under Listing 112.05(D), erred in finding that Plaintiff did not meet or medically equal Listing 112.05(D), and also erred in determining that Plaintiff did not meet or medically equal Listing 12.05(C).  at 2.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
This court's review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to an inquiry into whether there is substantial evidence to support the findings of the Commissioner and whether the correct legal standards were applied. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Villa v. Sullivan, 895 F.2d 1019, 1021 (5th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence has been defined as "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Perales, 402 U.S. at 401 (quoting Consolidated Edison v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The Fifth Circuit has further held that substantial evidence "must do more than create a suspicion of the existence of the fact to be established, but no substantial evidence' will be found only where there is a conspicuous absence of credible choices' or no contrary medical evidence.'" Harrell v. Bowen, 862 F.2d 471, 475 (5th Cir. 1988) (quoting Hames v. Heckler, 707 F.2d 162, 164 (5th Cir. 1983)). Conflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner to decide, and if substantial evidence is found to support the decision, the decision must be affirmed even if there is evidence on the other side. Selders v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 614, 617 (5th Cir. 1990). The court may not reweigh the evidence, try the case de novo, or substitute its own judgment for that of the Commissioner even if it finds that the evidence preponderates against the Commissioner's decision. Bowling v. Shalala, 36 F.3d 431, 434 (5th Cir. 1994); Hollis v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1378, 1383 (5th Cir. 1988); Harrell, 862 F.2d at 475. If the Commissioner's decision is supported by the evidence, then it is conclusive and must be upheld.
A child seeking supplemental security income (SSI) benefits is disabled within the meaning of the applicable law if he or she "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 burden rests upon the claimant throughout the process to prove disability.
The ALJ first analyzed the instant claim using the three-step process applied to claims brought on behalf of children. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date.  at 15. At the second step, the ALJ concluded that, under 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(c), Plaintiff had severe impairments of borderline intellectual functioning, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and specific learning disability. Id. The ALJ found that these impairments caused a significant limitation in Plaintiff's ability to work. Id. At step three though, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met, medically equaled, or functionally equaled the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404 Subpart P, Appendix 1.
The listings found at 20 C.F.R. Part 404 Subpart P, Appendix 1, set out certain impairments. If a claimant can show that he meets the criteria for one of them, he will automatically be found disabled without any further analysis by the ALJ. Plaintiff first argues that the ALJ applied the incorrect legal standard when considering Listing 112.05(D), the applicable listing in this case with respect to whether Plaintiff was disabled as a child.
To meet or medically equal Listing 112.05(D), a claimant's impairment must satisfy the "diagnostic description in the introductory paragraph" (sometimes referred to as the "capsule definition") of Listing 112.05, and the criteria set forth in 112.05(D). 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, §112.00. The capsule definition of Listing 112.05 and the Listing 112.05(D) criteria state as follows:
112.05 Intellectual disability: Characterized by significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning with ...