United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge
Kathleen Lehman on behalf of her minor child,
(“A.L.”) filed her complaint in this Court
seeking a reversal of the Social Security Commissioner's
final decision denying her application for disability
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act.
Alternately, Lehman seeks a remand for further consideration
of her application. On January 11, 2016, Lehman filed her
opening brief. Thereafter, on April 16, 2016, the
Commissioner filed a responsive memorandum asking this Court
to affirm the decision denying A.L. benefits. Lehman filed
her reply brief on May 2, 2016. This Court may enter a ruling
on this matter based on the parties' consent pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
22, 2004, Lehman applied for A.L.'s disability benefits.
On May 22, 2008, A.L.
found disabled starting March 6, 2008. On February 16, 2012,
during a continuing disability review pursuant to 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1590, the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) found that A.L. was no longer disabled.
March 28, 2013, a disability hearing officer reviewed the
agency's decision, and determined that A.L.'s health
had improved and concluded that her disability ended on
February 16, 2012. A.L. then requested a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”).
October 24, 2013, Lehman and A.L. appeared at an
administrative hearing in Elkhart, Indiana. A.L. was not
represented by counsel. The ALJ issued a decision on February
28, 2014, finding that A.L.'s disability ceased on
February 16, 2012. The Appeals Council denied A.L.'s
request for review. Through this action Lehman seeks judicial
review of the Commissioner's final decision pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
was born on September 9, 2000, making her seven years old
when she was originally found disabled in May 2008. A.L. met
Listing 112.11, the Listing for Attention Deficit
Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) and had speech
and language delays. A.L. was thirteen years old at the time
of the administrative hearing that resulted in the
Agency's determination that her disability ended in 2012.
hearing before the ALJ, A.L. and Lehman testified regarding
A.L.'s condition. A.L. testified that she takes
medications for ADHD and bipolar disorder. A.L. further
stated that she gets A's and B's in school but
struggles with reading. Lehman testified that A.L. had to
repeat the first grade and is currently in special education
classes. Additionally, Lehman testified that A.L. has a hard
time learning new things, has few friends, and rarely listens
and responds to rules given by adults. Lehman stated that
A.L. mostly does not complete homework assignments because
she does not understand it. She also states that the ADHD and
bipolar medications sometimes work on A.L., allowing her to
focus on tasks, but sometimes they do not.
of A.L.'s disability review in 2013, Lehman provided the
ALJ with medical evidence from February, 2012, to May, 2013.
The evidence included the report from a psychological
examination of A.L. conducted in 2012 by Carole Evans, the
school's psychologist at Woodland Elementary School. Ms.
Evans reported that A.L. did not have trouble getting along
with other children and that she did not hesitate to join in
play with a group of children. The psychological exam
conducted by Ms. Evans noted objective observations of A.L.
helping or assisting other students, and having a readily
established rapport that was easily maintained, and as
working “diligently” on all tasks presented. Ms.
Evans also performed WISC-IV and Woodcock-Johnson-II
cognitive tests on A.L. that showed cognitive ability within
borderline range of intellectual functioning, with
possibility of difficulty in keeping up with peers in
situations that require age-appropriate thinking and
reasoning ability and a low range ability to sustaining
attention, concentration and ability to exert mental control.
Ms. Evans summarized A.L.'s psychological exam by noting
“mild” cognitive disability.
addition, A.L.'s teachers completed multiple teacher
questionnaires. In 2008, the teacher questionnaire submitted
in support of A.L.'s original application for disability
benefits, indicated that A.L. had prominent difficulty with
acquiring information, task completion, interaction with
others, and caring for herself. In 2012, A.L.'s teachers
completed a questionnaire that reported a serious problem
with acquiring and using information, no more than slight
problems with task completion or interaction with others, and
no problems with manipulating objects or caring for herself.
Teachers reported that A.L. received more or less average
grades, got along with her teachers and obtained honor roll
“a few times.”[DE 12 at 201-12, DE 12 at 272-74,
DE 12 at 422-45]. In addition, A.L.'s teachers reported
to please others, had great school attendance, enjoyed
interaction with others, and was respectful, pleasant, and
able to follow school ...