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Parks v. Commissioner, Social Security Administration

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 20, 2015

RACHEL PARKS, on behalf of D.P., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant-Appellee

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. D.C. Docket No. 3:13-cv-00069-CDL.

For RACHEL PARKS, on behalf of DP, Plaintiff - Appellant: Charles Lee Martin, B. Michel Phillips, Martin & Jones, Decatur, GA.

For Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant - Appellee: Ashley M. Johnson, Richard Vincent Blake, Christopher Gene Harris, Brian C. Huberty, Jessica Velez Johnson, Joseph Paul Palermo III, Mary Ann Sloan, John C. Stoner, Social Security Administration, Office of the General Counsel, Atlanta, GA; H. Randolph Aderhold, Stewart R. Brown, U.S. Attorney's Office, Macon, GA.

Before TJOFLAT, WILLIAM PRYOR, and BALDOCK,[1] Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 848

WILLIAM PRYOR, Circuit Judge

This appeal presents two questions about Rachel Parks's application for supplemental security income on behalf of her minor son, D.P.: (1) whether the administrative law judge's denial of Parks's application was supported by substantial evidence; and (2) whether the Social Security Appeals Council must make explicit findings of fact about new evidence that it adds to the record when it denies review. D.P. suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and borderline intellectual functioning. An administrative law judge denied Parks's application because D.P. did not suffer from a condition that entitled him to supplemental security income. Parks filed a request for review with the Appeals Council, and she submitted new evidence of D.P.'s academic struggles. The Appeals Council supplemented the record with the new evidence, but denied review. Parks then filed a complaint in the district court, which affirmed the denial of her application. Because the administrative law judge's decision was supported by substantial evidence and the Appeals Council was not required to make specific findings about Parks's new evidence, we affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In April 2010, Parks applied to the Social Security Administration for supplemental security income on behalf of her son, D.P., and alleged that he had suffered from a " learning disability, [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder], [and] verbal based intellectual deficits" since April 2008. The Administration denied the claim and denied it again on reconsideration. Parks requested a hearing before an administrative law judge.

At the hearing, Parks testified that D.P.'s speech " wasn't clear enough" to understand and that D.P. could not understand " big" or " simple" words. D.P. would take " an hour to wash dishes" because he could not focus. He needed constant reminders to do his chores. But D.P. played video games and watched TV, and listened to music on the computer. He used to play football in an organized league.

Documentary evidence established that D.P. suffered from mental impairments. In April 2010, Matt Butryn, Ph.D., diagnosed D.P. with attention deficit hyperactive disorder, general and verbal-based intellectual deficits, and a learning disorder. In May 2010, Dr. Matt Baker, D.P.'s primary care physician, stated that D.P. improved after he was prescribed Concerta. But in October 2010, Butryn completed an evaluation form in which he concluded that D.P. had " marked" limitations in acquiring and using information, attending and completing

Page 849

tasks, interacting and relating with others, and caring for himself.

D.P.'s academic performance was weak in all areas. In January 2008, D.P. began an individualized education plan to combat a " Speech/Language Impairment." D.P. met the minimum competency standard in only one of five subject areas on his 2009 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. He again met only one minimum competency standard in 2010. His ...


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