United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division
F. BIVINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Gloria Briggs (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), brings
this action on behalf of a minor child, C.D.B. (hereinafter
“the claimant”), seeking judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
Plaintiff's claim for child supplemental security income
under Title XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §
1381, et seq. On April 11, 2018, the parties
consented to have the undersigned conduct any and all
proceedings in this case. (Doc. 19). Thus, this case was
referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings
through entry of judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §
636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. (Doc. 20). Oral argument was
conducted on May 16, 2018. (Doc. 22). Upon careful
consideration of the administrative record and the memoranda
of the parties, it is hereby ORDERED that
the decision of the Commissioner be
Procedural History 
filed an application for supplemental security income
benefits on behalf of the claimant on March 28, 2014, when he
was eight years old. (Doc. 11 at 162). Plaintiff alleged that
the claimant has been disabled since January 1, 2011, due to
“ADHD” (attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder). (Id. at 179, 182). Plaintiff's
application was denied at the initial stage on July 1, 2014.
(Id. at 106). Plaintiff filed a timely Request for
Hearing, and on November 19, 2015, Administrative Law Judge
Marni McCaghren (hereinafter “ALJ”) held an
administrative hearing, which was attended by Plaintiff (the
claimant's grandmother and legal guardian), the claimant
(who at the time was nine years old), and Plaintiff's
attorney. (Id. at 41).
February 1, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision
finding that the claimant is not disabled. (Id. at
21). The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review on May 26, 2017. (Id. at 5). Therefore, the
ALJ's decision dated February 1, 2016, became the final
decision of the Commissioner.
exhausted her administrative remedies, Plaintiff timely filed
the present civil action. (Doc. 1). The parties agree that
this case is now ripe for judicial review and is properly
before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
Issue on Appeal Whether substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's assignment of weight to the
expert opinions in this case?
claimant was born on November 29, 2005, and was eight years
old at the time that the Plaintiff (the claimant's
grandmother and legal guardian) filed an application for
supplemental security income benefits on March 28, 2014,
alleging that the claimant was disabled as a result of ADHD.
(Doc. 11 at 162, 179). According to Plaintiff, the claimant
lives with her and receives treatment at Alta Pointe with Dr.
Eric Leonhardt, M.D., for ADHD, mental retardation, autism,
and anxiety disorder. (Doc. 12 at 2; Doc. 11 at 324).
administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified that the claimant
was nine years old and in the third grade, that he was in
regular classes but received special accommodation, that he
repeated the first grade, that his grades were poor, that he
had trouble with understanding and comprehension, and that he
had been suspended from school and after school care for
behavioral issues such as hitting, throwing things, refusing
to sit down, and temper tantrums. She also testified that he
was dismissed from a football team for fighting with his
teammates. (Id. at 46, 57-58). The claimant takes
medication for ADHD and attends therapy once a month.
(Id. at 54-60).
Standard of Review
reviewing claims brought under the Act, this Court's role
is a limited one. The Court's review is limited to
determining 1) whether the decision of the Secretary is
supported by substantial evidence and 2) whether the correct
legal standards were applied.Martin v. Sullivan, 894
F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). A court may not decide the
facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its judgment
for that of the Commissioner. Sewell v. Bowen, 792
F.2d 1065, 1067 (11th Cir. 1986). The Commissioner's
findings of fact must be affirmed if they are based upon
substantial evidence. Brown v. Sullivan, 921 F.2d
1233, 1235 (11th Cir. 1991); Bloodsworth v. Heckler,
703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983) (holding substantial
evidence is defined as “more than a scintilla, but less
than a preponderance” and consists of “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.”). In determining
whether substantial evidence exists, a court must view the
record as a whole, taking into account evidence favorable, as
well as unfavorable, to the Commissioner's decision.
Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir.
1986); Short v. Apfel, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10163,
*4 (S.D. Ala. June 14, 1999).
Statutory and Regulatory Framework - Childhood Disability
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996,
which amended the statutory standard for children seeking
supplemental security income benefits based on disability,
became effective on August 22, 1996. See Pub. L. No.
104-193, 110 Stat. 2105 § 211(b)(2) (1996) (codified at
42 U.S.C. § 1382c). The definition of
“disabled” for children is:
An individual under the age of 18 shall be considered
disabled . . . if that individual 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