United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
WALLACE CAPEL, JR. CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Chandra Rena Jackson, on behalf of her minor daughter D.T.J.,
applied for child's supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act. The application was denied at the initial administrative
level. Plaintiff then requested and received a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Following
the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision in which he found
D.T.J. not disabled since the date the application was filed.
The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review
of the ALJ's decision. The ALJ's decision
consequently became the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”). See Chester
v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). Plaintiff
then sought review of the Commissioner's decision in this
court. In an Order entered on August 13, 2014, this court,
the Honorable W. Keith Watkins, Chief United States District
Judge, reversed the Commissioner's decision and remanded
to the Commissioner for further proceedings. See
Order (Doc. 27), Jackson v. Colvin, Civ. No.
2:13-cv-442-MEF (Aug. 13, 2014). On remand to the
Commissioner, the ALJ conducted another administrative
hearing and subsequently entered a written decision again
finding D.T.J. not disabled. Plaintiff again sought review at
the Appeals Council, which denied review, thereby making the
ALJ's decision on remand the final decision of the
Commissioner. Plaintiff has again sought review in this court
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), both parties have consented to the conduct of all
proceedings and entry of a final judgment by the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge. Pl.'s Consent to
Jurisdiction (Doc. 11); Def.'s Consent to Jurisdiction
(Doc. 12). Based on the court's review of the record and
the briefs of the parties, the court AFFIRMS the decision of
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation
Act of 1996 includes the standard for defining child
disability under the Social Security Act. See PUB.
L. NO. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105, 2188 (1996). The statute
provides that an individual under age eighteen
(“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 expected to last for a
continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42
U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i) (1999).
sequential analysis for determining whether a child claimant
is disabled is as follows:
1. If the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful
activity, she is not disabled.
2. If the claimant is not engaged in substantial gainful
activity, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant
has a physical or mental impairment which, whether
individually or in combination with one or more other
impairments, is a severe impairment. If the claimant's
impairment is not severe, she is not disabled.
3. If the impairment is severe, the Commissioner determines
whether the impairment meets the durational requirement and
meets, medically equals, or functionally equals in severity
an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, and
Appendix 1. If the impairment satisfies this requirement, the
claimant is presumed disabled.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a)-(d) (1997); see
also Shinn ex rel. Shinn v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 391
F.3d 1276, 1278 (11th Cir. 2004).
In determining whether an impairment functionally equals a
listed impairment, the ALJ must consider the child's
ability to function in six different “domains”:
(1) acquiring and using information; (2) attending and
completing tasks; (3) interacting and relating with others;
(4) moving about and manipulating objects; (5) “caring
for yourself;” and (6) health and physical well-being.
If the child has “marked” limitations in two of
these domains, or an “extreme” limitation in any
one domain, then his impairment functionally equals the
listed impairments, and he will be found to be disabled. A
“marked” limitation is one that seriously
interferes with the child's ability to initiate, sustain,
or complete activities. An extreme limitation is one that
“very seriously” interferes with the child's
ability to initiate, sustain, or complete activities.
Coleman ex rel. J.K.C. v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
454 Fed.Appx. 751, 752 (11th Cir. 2011) (internal citations
Commissioner's regulations provide that if a child's
impairment or impairments are not medically equal to, or
functionally equivalent in severity to, a listed impairment,
the child is not disabled. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(d)(2) (1997). In reviewing the Commissioner's
decision, the court asks only whether the ALJ's findings
concerning the steps are supported by substantial evidence.
“Under this limited standard of review, [the court] may
not make fact-findings, re-weigh the evidence, or substitute
[its] judgment for that of the [ALJ].” Bryant v.
Soc. Sec. Admin., 478 Fed.Appx. 644, 645 (11th Cir.
2012) (citing Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211
(11th Cir. 2005)). “Where substantial evidence
supporting the ALJ's fact findings exists, [the court]
cannot overturn those findings even if other substantial
evidence exists that is contrary to the ALJ's
findings.” Id. (citing Barron v.
Sullivan, 924 F.2d 227, 230 (11th Cir. 1991)); see
also McMillian, o/b/o A.T.F. v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
521 Fed.Appx. 801, 802 (11th Cir. 2013) (quoting Martin
v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990))
(“‘Even if the evidence preponderates against the
[Commissioner's] factual findings, we must affirm if the
decision reached is supported by substantial
was sixteen years old at the time of the administrative
hearing before the ALJ on remand. See Tr. 400.
Following the hearing, the ALJ found at Step One that D.T.J.
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity at any time
since the application date of June 23, 2010. Tr. 366. The ALJ
found at Step Two that D.T.J. has the severe impairments of
“asthma, chronic dermatitis, food allergy, and allergic
rhinitis.” Id. Next, the ALJ concluded under
Step Three that these impairments do not meet or medically
equal in severity the criteria for any impairment in the
Listing of Impairments. Tr. 366-368. The ALJ further found
that D.T.J.'s impairments do not functionally equal in
severity any such listings because D.T.J. has either less
than marked limitations or no limitations in each of the six
domains of function. Id. at 368-89. Consequently,
the ALJ found that D.T.J. was not disabled. Tr. 389.
“Statement of the Issues, ” Plaintiff presents
four issues for this court's consideration in review of
the ALJ's decision: (1) “WHETHER SUBSTANTIAL
EVIDENCE SUPPORTS THE CLAIM THAT D.T.J.'S IMPAIRMENTS
MEET OR FUNCTIONALLY EQUAL THE CHILDHOOD LISTING OF
IMPAIRMENTS;” (2) “WHETHER PROPER WEIGHT WAS
GIVEN TO MEDICAL OPINIONS OF D.T.J.'S TREATING
SOURCES;” (3) “WHETHER THE ALJ ERRED AS A MATTER
OF LAW IN EVALUATING THE SEVERITY OF THE COMBINED EFFECT OF
D.T.J.'S IMPAIRMENTS;” AND (4) “WHETHER THE
ALJ WAS BIASED AND FAILED TO FOLLOW PROCEDURES.” Doc.
16 at 1.
Whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision
that D.T.J.'s impairments do not meet or medically equal