United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
OPINION & ORDER
JOSEPH M. HOOOD, Senior District Judge.
The plaintiff, Racheal Elaine Lewis, brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of an administrative decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for Social Security benefits. The Court, having reviewed the record, will affirm the Commissioner's decision, as it is supported by substantial evidence.
I. OVERVIEW OF THE PROCESS
On May 27, 2010, an application for Child's Supplemental Security Income ("CSSI") and child's insurance benefits was filed on behalf of Lewis while she was still a minor under the age of 18 [TR 157-67]. Lewis subsequently attained the age of 18 years on August 26, 2010 [TR 16, 42]. Thus, her application was examined under section 1614(a)(3)(C) of the Social Security Act for the period before she turned 18, and under section 1614(a)(3)(A) and 223(d) of the Social Security Act for the period beginning at age 18. See 42 U.S.C. § 1382c.
An individual under the age of 18 is disabled under the Social Security Act 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. See 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i). To determine whether a child's impairment satisfies these requirements, the Social Security Administration regulations prescribe a three-step sequential evaluation process:
1. If a child is doing substantial gainful employment, the child is not disabled and the claim will not be reviewed further.
2. If a child is not doing substantial gainful activity, the child's physical or mental impairments will be considered to see if an impairment or combination of impairments is severe. If the child's impairments are not severe, the child is not disabled and the claim will not be reviewed further.
3. If the child's impairments are severe, the child's impairment(s) will be reviewed to determine if they meet, medically equal or functionally equal the listings. If the child has such an impairment and it meets the duration requirement, the child will be considered disabled. If the child does not have such impairment(s), or if the duration requirement is not met, the child is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 416.942(a). Once the claimant makes such a showing, an irrebuatable presumption of disability arises and benefits must be awarded. Shaw v. Chater, 221 F.3d 126, 134 (2nd Cir. 2000)(citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d)).
In order to "meet" a listed impairment at step three, a child must demonstrate both the "A" and "B" criteria of that listing. See 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1. "A" criteria are medical findings and "B" criteria "describe impairment-related functional limitations." Id. An impairment that shows some but not all of the criteria, no matter how severe, does not qualify. Sullivan v. Zebley, 493 U.S. 521, 530 (1990); Roth v. Shalala, 45 F.3d 279, 282 (8th Cir. 1995); Selders v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 614, 619 (5th Cir. 1990). However, even if a child's impairments do not "meet" a listed impairment, they may still be medically or functionally equal in severity and duration of the medical criteria of a listed impairment. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(a).
To determine if the impairment(s) is functionally equal to a listed impairment, the regulations focus on "broad areas of functioning intended to capture all of what a child can or cannot do." 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(b)(1). The six domains included in the regulations are: (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. Id. If a child's impairment(s) results in "marked" limitations in two domains or an "extreme" limitation in one domain and meets the duration requirements, the impairment(s) functionally equals the listings and the child will be found disabled. See 20 C.F.R.§ 416.926a(d). The regulations define a marked and extreme limitation as follows:
(2) Marked limitation.
(i) We will find that you have a "marked" limitation in a domain when your impairment(s) interferes seriously with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. Your day-to-day functioning may be seriously limited when your impairment(s) limits only one activity or when the interactive and cumulative effects of your impairment(s) limit several activities. "Marked" limitation also means a limitation that is "more than moderate" but "less than extreme." It is 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.
(3) Extreme limitation
(i) We will find that you have an "extreme" limitation in a domain when your impairment(s) interferes very seriously with your ability to independently initiate, sustain, or complete activities. Your day-to-day functioning may be very seriously limited when your impairment(s) limits only one activity or when the interactive and cumulative effects of your impairment(s) limit several activities. "Extreme" limitation also means a limitation that is more than "marked." "Extreme" limitation is the rating we give to the worst limitations. However, "extreme limitation" does not necessarily mean that a total lack or loss of ability to function. It is 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.§§ 416.926a(e)(2)(i), (e)(3)(i).
As an adult, an individual is disabled under the Social Security Act if they are unable to "engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or that 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). Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5 (1987). In determining whether an adult claimant is disabled, the regulations provide a five-step sequential process which the administrative law judge must follow. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(e); see Walters v. Commissioner of Social Security, 127 F.3d 525, 529 (6th Cir. 1997). The five steps, in summary, are as follows:
(1) If the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity, she is not disabled.
(2) If the claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity, her impairment must be severe before she can be found disabled.
(3) If the claimant is not doing substantial gainful activity and is suffering from a severe impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months, and her impairment meets or equals a listed impairment, the claimant is presumed disabled without further inquiry.
(4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent her from doing past relevant work, she is not disabled.
(5) Even if the claimant's impairment does prevent her from doing her past relevant work, if other work exists in the national economy that accommodates hers residual functional capacity and vocational factors ...