United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
KENDRA DAVIS O/B/O K.M.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. DOUGLAS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kendra Davis, on behalf of her minor child K.M., filed this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review of the
final decision of the Commissioner denying her 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.
The issues are thus 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.
protectively filed her application for SSI on March 19, 2015,
alleging that K.M. had a disability onset date of July 1,
2014. (Adm. Rec. at 11, 102). Plaintiff alleged disability
due to a speech impairment. (Id. at 126). Plaintiff,
born on February 21, 2010, was 4 years old on the date on
which plaintiff alleged disability. (Id. at 92). As
of the date of the application, K.M. was a preschooler and -
need it be said - had no past work experience.
initially denied plaintiff's application on December 23,
2014. (Id. at 45). Plaintiff sought an
administrative hearing, which defendant held on July 26,
2016. (Id. at 26-45). Plaintiff and K.M. testified
at the hearing.
April 5, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision in which she
concluded that K.M. is not disabled. (Id. at 11-22).
The ALJ utilized the three-step evaluation process for
determining a child's disability to evaluate K.M.'s
condition. (Id.). At Step One, the ALJ found that
K.M., then a preschooler, had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the application date. (Id. at
14). At Step Two, the ALJ found that K.M. had the severe
impairment of a speech delay. (Id.). At Step Three,
the ALJ found that K.M.'s severe impairment did not meet
or medically equal the severity of any listed impairment.
(Id.). The ALJ then applied the analysis set forth
at 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a to find that K.M.'s severe
impairment did not functionally equal the severity of any
listed impairment. (Id. at 14-22). Thus, the ALJ
determined that K.M. was not disabled under the Act from the
application date through the date of the decision.
asked the Appeals Council to review the ALJ's conclusion
that K.M. is not disabled, and, on March 28, 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 “substantial
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
is entitled to disability benefits if he or she has a severe
medically determinable physical or mental impairment or
combination of impairments that cause marked and severe
functional limitations, and 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. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.906, 416.924. The ALJ employs the following
three-step sequential evaluation process in evaluating
childhood disability cases: (1) Is the child engaged in
substantial gainful activity?; (2) Does the child have a
severe impairment or combination of impairments?; and (3)
Does the severe ...