The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morton Denlow, United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
This case comes before the Court for a review of the final decision of
Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), denying
minor plaintiff, Arlillian Harris ("Claimant" or "Harris"), Child's
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the
Social Security Act (the "Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 1382. Harris seeks a
continuation of her SSI benefits due to her chronic diabetes mellitus.
The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") denied continuation of benefits.
Harris seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision. The
matter comes before this Court on cross-motions for summary judgment. The
issues to be decided are: 1) whether substantial evidence in the record
supports the ALJ's finding that Claimant did not medically or
functionally equal Listing 109.08B, found in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt.
P, App. 1, and 2) whether the Appeals Council erred in failing to change
the ALJ's decision. For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms
the Commissioner's decision.
II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On May 5, 1995, Harris, through her mother Deborah Bond ("Bond"),
applied for SSI benefits, claiming disability due to diabetes mellitus.
R. 115-18. On March 13, 1996, the ALJ decided in Harris's favor,
backdating her benefits to April 24, 1995. R. 366-72. Due to the passage
of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in
1996, the Regional Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
reviewed Claimant's case to see if she still qualified for SSI. In July
1997 Claimant was notified that she was no longer eligible to receive SSI
because she was no longer considered disabled under the new law. R.
428-431. Bond filed a request for reconsideration of continuation of SSI
on November 17, 1997. R. 440-51. Upon reconsideration, the Disability
Hearing Officer found the Claimant to be not disabled. R. 465-70.
Bond filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision by the
Commissioner's Appeal Council, which was denied, leaving the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. R. 11-13. Bond then
filed a request for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g),
which is currently before this Court.
Judicial review of a 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. Wolfe v. Shalala, 997 F.2d 321, 322 (7th Cir. 1993). Under such
circumstances, the decision reviewed by the district court is the
decision of the ALJ. Eads v. Secretary of the Dept. of Health & Human
Serv., 983 F.2d 815, 816 (7th Cir. 1993). A reviewing court may not
decide facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute its own judgment
for that of the Commissioner. Knight v. Chater, 55 F.3d 309, 313 (7th
Judicial review is limited to determining whether the ALJ applied the
correct legal standards in reaching its decision and whether there is
substantial evidence in the record to support his findings. Schoenfeld
v. Apfel, 237 F.3d 788, 792 (7th Cir. 2001); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). 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.
Zacarias, 502 U.S. 478, 481, n. 1 (1992). The Act gives a court the power
to enter a judgment "affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause
for a rehearing." 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
A. ESTABLISHING A DISABILITY.
On August 22, 1996, Congress enacted the Personal Responsibility and
Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 ("PRWORA"), which amended the
statutory standard for children seeking SSI benefits based on
disability. See § 211(a) of Pub. L. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2105, 2188-89
(codified at 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)). Prior to enactment of Pub.
L. 104-193, a child was considered disabled if he or she had a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that met the statutory
duration requirement and was "of comparable severity" to an impairment
that would disable an adult. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A) (1994);
20 C.F.R. § 416.924 (1996). The PRWORA revised this standard to one
under which a child seeking SSI benefits based, on disability will be