United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RUSS WALKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
appeal, plaintiff T.L.H., a minor child, challenges the
Commissioner's final decision  denying his application for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act. See Doc. 1; Doc. 12. In
reviewing Administrative Law Judge D. Burgess Stalley's
(“ALJ”) adverse decision, the court upholds
factual findings that are supported by substantial evidence.
See Davis v. Shalala, 985 F.2d 528, 531 (11th Cir.
1993); Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145
(11th Cir. 1991). However, no presumption of validity
attaches to the ALJ's determination of the proper legal
standards to be applied. If the court finds an error in the
ALJ's application of the law, or if the ALJ fails to
provide the court with sufficient reasoning for determining
that the proper legal analysis has been conducted, the
ALJ's decision must be reversed. See Cornelius,
936 F.2d at 1145-46.
parties have consented to entry of final judgment by the
Magistrate Judge. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c); Doc.
10; Doc. 11. For the reasons stated herein, and based upon
its review of the record, the court finds that the
Commissioner's decision is due to be affirmed.
regulations set forth the process by which the SSA determines
if a child is disabled and thereby eligible for disability
benefits.” Shinn ex rel. Shinn v. Commissioner of
Social Sec., 391 F.3d 1276, 1278 (11th Cir. 2004)
(citing 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(I) and 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.906). “The process begins with the ALJ
determining whether the child is ‘doing substantial
gainful activity, ' in which case [he] is considered
‘not disabled' and is ineligible for
benefits.” Id. (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
416.924(a), (b)). “The next step is for the ALJ to
consider the child's ‘physical or mental
impairment(s)' to determine if [he] has ‘an
impairment or combination of impairments that is
severe.”' Id. (citing 42 U.S.C.
§§ 416.924(a), (c)). “For an applicant with a
severe impairment, the ALJ next assesses whether the
impairment ‘causes marked and severe functional
limitations' for the child.” Id. (citing
20 C.F.R. §§ 416.911(b), 416.924(d)). This
determination is made according to objective criteria set
forth in the Code of Federal Regulations
As the Eleventh Circuit has explained,
[t]he C.F.R. contains a Listing of Impairments [“the
Listings”, found at 20 C.F.R. § 404 app.]
specifying almost every sort of medical problem
(“impairment”) from which a person can suffer,
sorted into general categories. See Id. §
416.925(a). For each impairment, the Listings discuss various
limitations on a person's abilities that impairment may
impose. Limitations appearing in these listings are
considered “marked and severe.” Id.
(“The Listing of Impairments describes ... impairments
for a child that cause [ ] marked and severe functional
A child's impairment is recognized as causing
“marked and severe functional limitations” if
those limitations “meet[ ], medically equal[ ], or
functionally equal[ ] the [L]istings.” Id.
§ 416.911(b)(1); see also §§ 416.902,
416.924(a). A child's limitations “meet” the
limitations in the Listings if the child actually suffers
from the limitations specified in the Listings for that
child's severe impairment. A child's limitations
“medically equal” the limitations in the Listings
if the child's limitations “are at least of equal
medical significance to those of a listed impairment.”
Id. § 416.926(a)(2).
Id. at 1278-79.
Finally, even if the limitations resulting from a child's
particular impairment[s] are not comparable to those
specified in the Listings, the ALJ can still conclude that
those limitations are ‘functionally equivalent' to
those in the Listings. In making this determination, the ALJ
assesses the degree to which the child's limitations
interfere with the child's normal life activities. The
C.F.R. specifies six major domains of life:
(i) Acquiring and using information;
(ii) Attending and completing tasks;
(iii) Interacting and relating with ...