United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
Amber Porter on behalf of K.F.,  a minor, appeals the denial
of K.F.'s application for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) benefits. Ms. Porter applied for
benefits on K.F's behalf on August 27, 2012. [Filing No.
14-7 at 2.] The claim was initially denied on October 22,
2012, [Filing No. 14-4 at 6], and upon reconsideration on
November 2, 2012, [Filing No. 14-4 at 18]. Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Mark Ziercher held a
hearing on January 17, 2014, and issued a decision on October
28, 2014, concluding that K.F. was not disabled. [Filing No.
14-4 at 20.] Ms. Porter sought review by the Social Security
Administration's Appeals Council, [Filing No. 14-5 at
49], which granted review on November 17, 2015, [Filing No.
14-4 at 42], and remanded the case for further proceedings,
[Filing No. 14-4 at 44]. On March 21, 2016, ALJ John Metz
held a supplemental hearing at which Ms. Porter and Dr. Belt,
an impartial medical expert, testified. [Filing No. 14-2 at
11.] ALJ Metz denied the claim on May 18, 2016, [Filing No.
14-2 at 2], and the Appeals Council denied review on July 12,
2017, rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the
“Commissioner”) for the purposes of this
review, [Filing No. 14-2 at 2]. Ms. Porter filed this action
on behalf of K.F. pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42
U.S.C. § 1383(c), requesting that the Court review the
ALJ's denial of benefits. [Filing No. 1.]
Standard of Review
security disability benefits are designed for disabled
workers, but low-income parents or guardians may obtain them
on behalf of disabled children as well.” Keys v.
Barnhart, 347 F.3d 990, 991 (7th Cir. 2003). For a child
to be considered disabled, it must be shown that the child
“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).
[S]ince disabled children generally do not have a work
history, the structure of the disability program for them is
necessarily different from that for adults, except in cases
in which the child has a ‘listed impairment,' that
is, an impairment that would entitle the adult to disability
benefits without any further inquiry into his ability to
perform his past work or some other work; the child is
treated the same in such a case.
Keys, 347 F.3d at 991-92 (citing 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(d)). If the child is “not so seriously disabled
as is implied by being found to have a listed impairment,
then it must be determined whether [the child] is
nevertheless severely limited in functioning in specified
areas of life activity such as concentration and
communication.” Id. at 992.
determine whether a child is disabled, the ALJ considers all
relevant evidence and the combined effect of any impairments
on the child's overall health and functioning. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.924(a). The regulations set forth a three-step
process for evaluating child disability claims. 20 C.F.R.
One, if the child is doing substantial gainful activity, as
defined by the regulations, the child is not disabled and the
evaluation stops. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a)-(b). If the
child is not doing substantial gainful activity, the
evaluation proceeds to Step Two. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a).
Two, the ALJ considers the child's physical or mental
impairments to see if the child has an impairment or
combination of impairments that are severe. 20 C.F.R. §
416.924(a). If the impairment or impairments are not severe,
the child is not disabled and the evaluation stops. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.924(a). If the impairment or impairments are
severe, the evaluation proceeds to Step Three. 20 C.F.R.
Three, the ALJ considers whether the child has an impairment
or impairments that meets, medically equals, or functionally
equals a listing. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). If the child
has such an impairment and it meets the duration requirement,
the child is disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(a). If the
child does not have such an impairment, or if it does not
meet the duration requirement, the child is not disabled. 20
C.F.R. § 416.924(a).
child's impairments will functionally equal a listing if
they result in either a “marked” limitation in at
least two of six enumerated domains of functioning or an
“extreme” limitation in at least one of the
domains. Buckhanon ex rel. J.H. v. Astrue, 368
Fed.Appx. 674, 679 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing 20 C.F.R. §
416.926a). The six domains are as follows: (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. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a. A
“marked” limitation interferes
“seriously” with a child's ability to
initiate, sustain, or complete activities in the domain, and
an “extreme” limitation interferes “very
seriously.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.926a(e)(2).
Court's role in reviewing a disability decision is
limited to ensuring that the ALJ applied the correct legal
standards and that substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's findings. Barnett v. Barnhart, 381 F.3d
664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted).
“Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. at 668 (quotation omitted).
The ALJ “need not evaluate in writing every piece of
testimony and evidence submitted.” Carlson v.
Shalala, 999 F.2d 180, 181 (7th Cir. 1993). However, the
“ALJ's decision must be based upon consideration of
all the relevant evidence.” Herron v. Shalala,
19 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 1994). Moreover, “[a]n ALJ
may not select and discuss only that evidence that favors
[his] ultimate conclusion, but must articulate, at some
minimum level, [his] analysis of the evidence to allow the
[Court] to trace the path of [his] reasoning.” Diaz
v. Chater, 55 F.3d 300, 307 (7th Cir. 1995).
ALJ committed no legal error and substantial evidence
supports the ALJ's decision, the Court must affirm the
denial of benefits. Otherwise, the Court must generally
remand the matter back to the SSA for further consideration;
only under rare circumstances can the Court actually order an
award of benefits. See Briscoe v. Barnhart,
425 F.3d 345, 355 (7th Cir. 2005).
was seven years old when Ms. Porter filed an application for
SSI benefits on his behalf in 2012. [Filing No. 14-4 at 2.]
The application alleges a disability onset date of June 9,
2005, due to behavioral problems, special education, and
Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
(“ADHD”). [Filing No. 14-4 at
the sequential evaluation set forth by the SSA, the ALJ
issued a decision on May 18, 2016, finding as follows:
• At Step One, the ALJ concluded that K.F. had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 16,
2012. [Filing No. 14-2 at 14.]
• At Step Two, the ALJ concluded that K.F. had the
severe impairments of ADHD, autism disorder, and speech