noting that Cory "scored in the moderate to severe range for attention deficit/hyperactivity," that ADHD was diagnosed, and that Ritalin was prescribed. (A.R. at 15.) The ALJ stated that the medical evidence clearly established that Cory had ADHD with marked inattention, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity, but found that these characteristics were attenuated by medication. (A.R. at 15.) The ALJ referred to Dr. Robertson's statement in September 1994 that Cory was asymptomatic with medication. (A.R. at 16.) The ALJ very briefly referred to Cory's "regression" in February 1995, but did not discuss Dr. Robertson's evaluation made upon Cory's admittance to Riveredge. (A.R. at 16.) The ALJ dismissed this latest available report by the treating psychiatrist by stating that there was no indication of continuing regression and noting that school records in Exhibit 22 indicated that Cory was successfully mainstreamed into all classes and would no longer require special education placement in the upcoming school year. (A.R. at 16.) The ALJ discussed and agreed with the assessment and conclusions of the reviewing psychologist, Dr. Appleton. The ALJ indicated that the testimony by Cory and his mother was not especially persuasive or credible. (A.R. at 17.)
The ALJ determined that although Cory's impairment was severe, it did not meet, equal, or functionally equal any Listing. (A.R. at 18.) The ALJ found that Cory had no limitations in cognitive, communicative, or motor functioning, but did have moderate limitations in personal/behavioral functioning and less than moderate limitations in social functioning and concentration, persistence, and pace. (A.R. at 18.) The ALJ found that Cory's impairment did not preclude him from functioning independently, effectively, and appropriately in age-appropriate activities. (A.R. at 18.) Because the ALJ found that Cory's impairments were not of comparable severity to that which would disable an adult, (see 20 C.F.R. 416.924(a)(1995)), he concluded that Cory was not disabled. (A.R. at 18.)
III. THE APPEALS COUNCIL DECISION
Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision was denied by the Appeals Council. (A.R. at 4.) The Appeals Council stated that it considered the written contentions raised by counsel and additional evidence consisting of Riveredge School reports dated February 1995 through April 1996 and Riveredge Hospital reports dated April through September 1995, but concluded that neither the contentions nor the additional evidence provided a basis for changing the ALJ's decision. The Appeals Council stated that the ALJ considered all the evidence in the record as it existed when the ALJ ruled. The Appeals Council noted that the ALJ ruled only on whether Cory was disabled as of July 28, 1995, and the additional evidence after that date was not material to that decision. The Appeals Council remarked that Cory's April 1995 discharge reports from Riveredge, that were not before the ALJ, indicated that Cory showed improvement and that his Global Assessment of Functioning ("GAF") was 80, reflecting only slight symtomology.
IV. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD OF REVIEW
Summary judgment is proper when the "pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2552, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). There is no genuine issue of material fact in the present administrative review before the Court; thus, summary judgment is appropriate.
V. JUDICIAL REVIEW OF THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION
Judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision is governed by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) which provides that "the findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive." An ALJ's decision becomes the Commissioner's final decision if the Appeals Council denies a request for review. 20 C.F.R. § 404.981; Herron v. Shalala, 19 F.3d 329, 332 (7th Cir. 1994). When the Appeals Council denies a request to review a case, the decision reviewed by the district court is the decision of the ALJ. Eads v. Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Servs., 983 F.2d 815, 817 (7th Cir. 1993). The district court is not free to consider evidence submitted for the first time to the Appeals Council. Id. The correctness of the ALJ's decision rests on the evidence that was part of the record as is existed when that decision was made. Id.
A reviewing court may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its own judgment for that of the Commissioner. Herron, 19 F.3d 329. The ALJ has the duty to resolve material conflicts and make independent findings of fact. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 399-400, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 1426, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971). Judicial review is limited to determining whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards in reaching a decision and whether there is substantial evidence in the record to support the findings. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Stevenson v. Chater, 105 F.3d 1151, 1153 (7th Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Perales, 402 U.S. at 401, 91 S. Ct. at 1427 (internal quotations omitted). The ALJ's decision must be affirmed if his findings and inferences reasonably drawn from the record are supported by substantial evidence, even though some evidence may also support the claimant's argument. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see Pope v. Shalala, 998 F.2d 473, 480 (7th Cir. 1993). The court may reverse the Commissioner's decision only if the evidence "compels" reversal, not merely because the evidence supports a contrary decision. INS v. Elias-Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 481, 112 S. Ct. 812, 815 n.1, 117 L. Ed. 2d 38 (1992). Finally, a credibility determination made by the ALJ will not be disturbed unless it is patently wrong. Brewer v. Chater, 103 F.3d 1384, 1392 (7th Cir. 1997).
In the present case, the ALJ decision stands as the Commissioner's final decision because the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Medical evidence and school records that were not before the ALJ were submitted to the Commissioner for consideration of Plaintiff's request for review. Plaintiff directs this Court several times to evidence that was not before the ALJ when he made his decision on July 28, 1995. See e.g., Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts P 15; Pl.'s Mem. in Supp. of Summ. J. at 6, 7; Pl.'s Reply Brief at 1. This Court cannot consider such evidence and will confine its review to the evidence that was before the ALJ.
See Eads, 983 F.2d at 817.
VI. CHILD DISABILITY STANDARD
A. The Standard in Effect At the Time of the ALJ's Decision
Under the Social Security Act at the time the ALJ made his decision, a person was disabled if that individual was
unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment 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 twelve months (or, in the case of an individual under the age of 18, if he [or she] suffers from any medically determinable physical or mental impairment of comparable severity).