Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Kareen C. v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

March 12, 2019

KAREN C, On behalf of C.C.[1]Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, [2]Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          Ann Aiken United States District Judge

         Plaintiff C.C, a minor, through his mother, Karen C, seeks judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's final decision denying plaintiffs application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under the Title XVI of the Social Security Act. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3), which provides for judicial review of the final decision of the defendant. The decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born on December 1, 2001, and alleges disability since June 1, 2012. Tr. at 42. Plaintiffs mother filed an application for SSI on plaintiffs behalf on April 18, 2014, when plaintiff was a school-aged child. Tr. at 18. His application for SSI is based on attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ("ADHD"). Tr. at 43, 60-62. The Commissioner denied the initial application on September 22, 2014. Tr. at 18. The claim was also denied upon reconsideration on January 20, 2015. Tr. at 18, 76-88. The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") held a hearing on June 29, 2016, and found the plaintiff not disabled. Tr. at 18-34. The Appeals Council denied further review of plaintiffs application, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Tr. 1. Plaintiff now appeals to this Court.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The district court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based upon proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Berry v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 1228, 1231 (9th Cir. 2010). "Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Gutierrez v. Comm'r Soc. Sec, 740 F.3d 519, 522 (9th Cir. 2014) (citation and quotation marks omitted). The court must weigh "both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the ALJ's conclusion." Mayes v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2001). If the evidence is subject to more than one interpretation but the Commissioner's decision is rational, the Commissioner must be affirmed because "the court may not substitute its judgement for that of the Commissioner." Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).

         DISABILITY ANALYSIS FOR CHILDREN

         The Commissioner must determine if the claimant is disabled under § 1614(a)(3)(C) of the Social Security Act. In childhood disability determinations, the Commissioner applies a three-step evaluation process that asks (1) whether the claimant is engaging in substantial gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a medically determinable impairment that is "severe" or a combination of impairments that is "severe"; and (3) whether the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of the listing, or that functionally equals the listings. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a).

         In determining whether the claimant has an impairment that functionally meets or medically equals the severity of the listing, the Commissioner must assess the claimant's functioning in terms of six domains: (1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and completing tasks; (3) interacting and relation with others; (4) moving about and manipulating objects; (5) caring for yourself; and (6) health and physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. § 4l6.926a(d). To functionally equal the listings, the claimant's impairment or combination of 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 "marked" limitation is one that "interferes seriously with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities . . . the equivalent of the functioning we would expect to find on standardized testing with scores that are at least two, but less than three, standard deviations below the mean." 20 C.F.R. § 4l9.926a(e)(2)(i). An "extreme" limitation is one that "interferes seriously with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities . . . the equivalent of the functioning we would expect to find on standardized testing with scores that are at least three standard deviations below the mean." 20 C.F.R. § 4l9.926a(e)(3)(1). A variety of evidential sources are used in such determinations, including medical records, test scores, information from parents, teachers, and school personnel. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a. Although limitations must result from a medically determinable impairment, the Commissioner looks to a child's functioning in comparison to his peers. 20 C.F.R. § 924(b)(l-3).

         THE AL J'S FINDINGS

         At step one, the ALJ found plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date. Tr. 21. At step two, the ALJ found plaintiffs attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to be a "severe" impairment under 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(c). Tr. 21. At step three, the ALJ found plaintiffs impairments did not meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments. Tr. 21. The ALJ further found that the plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that functionally equals the severity of the listings. Tr. 21.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff challenges the ALJ's finding that plaintiff did not meet, equal, or functionally equal Listing 112.11 for ADHD, with marked limitations in (1) acquiring and using information and (2) attending and completing tasks. Tr. 28-29. Plaintiff contends the ALJ committed at least four harmful errors. Specifically, plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in (1) failing to credit the testimony of plaintiffs second grade teacher; (2) failing to credit the plaintiffs mother's testimony; (3) failing to credit plaintiffs testimony about his symptom severity; (4) failing to give appropriate weight to the medical opinion of Dr. Glassmire; and (5) concluding that plaintiffs impairment did not functionally equal the listings. Throughout, he argues that plaintiff is disabled because his ADHD functionally equals the childhood disability listing. I address each argument in turn.

         A. Lay Witness Testimony and Plaintiffs Testimony

         Plaintiff submitted that the ALJ erred in failing to credit the lay witness testimony of (1) plaintiffs second grade teacher Lynne Leake; (2) plaintiffs mother; and (3) plaintiffs subjective symptom testimony. The regulations direct that the ALJ may consider lay testimony addressing the severity of a claimant's limitations, or if you are a child, "how you typically function compared to children your age who do not have impairments." 20 C.F.R. § 416.913(d). The ALJ must give germane reasons in rejecting lay testimony, and such testimony cannot be disregarded without comment. Dodrill v. Shalala,12 F.3d 915, 919 (9th Cir. 1993); Molina v. Astrue,674 F.3d 1104, 1114 (9th Cir. 2012). Such germane reasons must be specific to the lay witness. One reason to discredit the testimony of a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.