United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
E. KNOWLES, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for
review of the final decision of the Commissioner denying her
minor child's claim for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act ("SSA"). The matter has been fully briefed on
cross-motions for summary judgment and is ripe for review.
For the following reasons, IT IS RECOMMENDED that
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment be DENIED, the
Commissioner's cross-motion be GRANTED, and
plaintiff's case be DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
behalf of her minor child (“claimant”), plaintiff
filed an application for SSI on November 26, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of June 7, 2013. (Adm. Rec. at 122-30).
Claimant alleged disability due to an enlarged kidney, speech
problems, developmental delays, and asthma. (Id. at
143). Claimant, born on January 6, 2010, was three years old
on the date on which she alleged disability and six years old
at the time of the final administrative decision.
(Id. at 122). Claimant is a preschooler.
(Id. at 147). She has no past work experience.
initially denied claimant's application on October 10,
2014. (Id. at 80-91). Plaintiff sought an
administrative hearing, which defendant held on July 17,
2015. (Id. at 43-79). Plaintiff testified at the
March 3, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision in which he found
that claimant has not been disabled since June 30, 2013.
(Id. at 10-28). In the decision, the ALJ concluded
that claimant has the severe impairments of phonological
order, borderline intellectual functioning, attention deficit
hyperactive disorder (“ADHD”), asthma, disruptive
behavior disorder, and autistic spectrum disorder.
(Id. at 13). The ALJ held that claimant does not
have an impairment or a combination of impairments that meets
or medically equals a listed impairment under the
regulations. (Id. at 14-15). The ALJ found that
claimant has marked limitation in attending and completing
tasks, less than marked limitation in acquiring and using
information, interacting and relating with others, and health
and physical well-being, and no limitation in moving about
and manipulating objects and caring for herself.
(Id. at 21-28). The ALJ thus concluded that claimant
is not disabled.
asked the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's conclusion
that claimant is not disabled. (Id. at 1033-41). On
February 23, 2017, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request. (Id. at 1-5). Plaintiff then timely filed
this civil action.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
function of a district court on judicial review is limited to
determining whether there is “Asubstantial
evidence” in the record, as a whole, to support the
final decision of the Commissioner as trier of fact, and
whether the Commissioner applied the appropriate legal
standards to evaluate the evidence. See 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Brown v. Apfel, 192 F.3d 492, 496
(5th Cir.1999); Martinez v. Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 173
(5th Cir.1995); Carriere v. Sullivan, 944 F.2d 243,
245 (5th Cir.1991). If the Commissioner's findings are
supported by substantial evidence, this Court must affirm
them. Martinez, 64 F.3d at 173.
evidence” is that which is relevant and sufficient for
a reasonable mind to accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401(1971); Masterson v. Barnhart, 309 F.3d 267, 272
(5th Cir. 2002). It is more than a scintilla, but may be less
than a preponderance. Spellman v. Shalala, 1 F.3d
357, 360 (5th Cir.1993). A finding of no substantial evidence
is appropriate only if no credible evidentiary choices or
medical findings exist to support the Commissioner's
decision. See Boyd v. Apfel, 239 F.3d 698, 704 (5th
district court may not try the issues de novo,
re-weigh the evidence, or substitute its own judgment for
that of the Commissioner. Carey v. Apfel, 230 F.3d
131, 135 (5th Cir. 2000); Ripley v. Chater, 67 F.3d
552, 555 (5th Cir.1995); Spellman, 1 F.3d at 360.
The Commissioner is entitled to make any finding that is
supported by substantial evidence, regardless of whether
other conclusions are also permissible. See Arkansas v.
Oklahoma, 503 U.S. 91, 112-13 (1992). Conflicts in the
evidence are for the Commissioner to resolve, not the courts.
Carey, 230 F.3d at 135. Any of the
Commissioner's findings of fact that are supported by
substantial evidence are conclusive. Ripley, 67 F.3d
at 555. Despite this Court's limited function on review,
the Court must scrutinize the record in its entirety to
determine the reasonableness of the decision reached and
whether substantial evidence exists to support it.
Anthony v. Sullivan, 954 F.2d 289, 295 (5th
Cir.1992); Villa v. Sullivan, 895 F.2d 1019, 1022
ENTITLEMENT TO BENEFITS UNDER THE ACT
uses a three-step sequential process to determine whether an
individual under the age of 18 is disabled. In this
three-step process, the ALJ considers:
1) whether the claimant is currently engaging in substantial
gainful activity, as an individual who is working and
engaging in substantial gainful activity will not be found
disabled, regardless of the medical findings;
2) whether the claimant has a “severe” impairment
or a combination of impairments that is “severe”;
3) whether the claimant meets or equals a listed impairment
in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a); Verrett v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec'y, No. Civ. A. 99-3647, 2001 WL 179922 at
*1 n.7 (E.D. La. 2001). To determine whether a minor claimant
is disabled, the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments must result in marked limitations in two domains
of functioning or an extreme limitation in one domain. The
six domains of functioning are: (1) acquiring and using
information; (2) attending and completing tasks; (3)
interacting and relating with others; (4) moving about and
manipulating objections; (5) caring for yourself; and (6)
health and physical well-being. 20 C.F.R. §
MOTION TO SUPPLEMENT/TO REMAND
the Court is a motion to supplement the record [Doc. #13]
filed by plaintiff. In her motion for summary judgment,
plaintiff asks the Court to remand this case to the ALJ for
consideration of the new supplemental evidence. Because these
issues are inextricably intertwined, the Court will treat
has submitted approximately 150 pages of additional evidence
to this Court and asks it to supplement the record. [Doc.
#13]. Generally, this Court can not consider evidence outside
the transcript of the administrative record when it reviews
the findings in the ALJ's decision. See 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) (“The court shall have power to
enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a
judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security . . .”);
Carrier v. Sullivan, 944 F.2d 243, 247 (5th Cir.
1991) (“We are constrained by the record which was
available to the ALJ.”).
this Court “may at any time order additional evidence
to be taken before the Secretary, but only upon a showing
that there is new evidence which is material and that there
is good cause for the failure to incorporate such evidence
into the record in a prior proceeding. . . .” 28 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). To justify a remand, then, the evidence must
be (1) new, (2) material, and (3) good cause must be shown
for the failure to incorporate the evidence into the record
in a prior proceeding. Dorsey v. Heckler, 702 F.2d
597, 604 (5th Cir. 1983). To interpret the materiality
requirement, the Fifth Circuit has held that “a remand
to the Secretary is not justified if there is no reasonable
possibility that it would have changed the outcome of the
Secretary's determination.” Chaney v.
Schweiker, 659 F.2d 676, 679 (5th Cir. 1981). Further,
“[i]mplicit in the materiality requirement . . .
‘is that the new evidence relate to the time period for
which benefits were denied, and that it not concern evidence