United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
May 12, 2004.
MIGDALIA TEVENAL, mother, on behalf of Michael Gribsby, minor child, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM HART, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AMD ORDER
In 2001, Migdalia Tevenal applied for Supplemental Security Income
payments on behalf of her minor son, Michael Grigsby, who was born in
August 1987. There is no dispute that Grigsby suffers from congenital
adrenal hyperplasia ("CAH"), which is fatal if not properly treated with
medications. Grigsby also has some hearing loss in one ear and uses a
hearing aid. At the time of the hearing, he was 14 years old, of normal
height and weight, and his condition, having been discovered when he was
12 days old, was controlled by medication.
According to the National Institute of Health's MedlinePlus
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia refers to a group of
inherited disorders relating to the adrenal glands,
characterized by a deficiency in the hormones cortisol
and aldosterone and an overproduction of androgen.
The different types of adrenogenital syndrome are
inherited as autosomal recessive diseases and can affect both boys and girls. The
defect is lack of an enzyme needed by the adrenal
gland to make the major steroid hormones of the
adrenal cortex: cortisol and aldosterone. Due to the
block in synthesis of these hormones, there is
abnormal `feedback' and steroids are `diverted' to
becoming androgens, a form of male sex hormones. This
causes early appearance of male characteristics.
* * *
In a newborn boy no obvious abnormality is present,
but long before puberty normally occurs, the child
becomes increasingly muscular, the penis enlarges,
pubic hair appears, and the voice deepens. Affected
males may appear to enter puberty as early as 2-3
years of age. At puberty, the testes are small.
Some forms of congenital adrenal hyperplasia are
more severe and cause adrenal crisis in the newborn
due to salt wasting. In this salt-losing form of
congenital adrenal hyperplasia, newborns develop
symptoms shortly after birth. These include vomiting,
dehydration, electrolyte changes, and cardiac
arrhythmias. Untreated, this condition can lead to
death within 1-6 weeks after birth.
About 1 in 10,000 to 18,000 children are born
with congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
* * *
The goal of treatment is to return hormone levels to
normal. This is achieved by daily administration of
forms of cortisol: dexamethasone, fludrocortisone, or
hydrocortisone. Additional doses of medicine are
required during times of stress such as severe illness
* * *
The outcome is usually associated with good health,
but short stature may result even with treatment.
Males have normal fertility. . . . Medication to treat
this disorder must be continued for life.
A hearing was held before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). The ALJ
found that Grigsby had CAH and the hearing loss and that both constituted a severe impairment. However, the ALJ found
that Grigsby was not entitled to benefits because the impairments did not
meet or equal any listed impairment. Consistent with applicable
regulations, the ALJ considered the six functional equivalence domains
and did not find a sufficient limitation that would qualify Grigsby for
benefits. The Appeals Council denied review.*fn1
Tevenal, who is proceeding without the assistance of an attorney, does
not make any argument challenging the findings of the ALJ. Because
Tevenal is proceeding pro se and acting for the benefit of a minor, the
court has also independently examined the record and has determined that
the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence. No possibly
questionable legal issue or factual finding has been found that would
justify appointing counsel to present further argument on plaintiff's
Tevenal concedes that Grigsby "does attend school everyday and does
well in some classes and needs tutor[ing] in other classes, just like a
lot of students his age. He also does a lot of things for himself, does
chores around the house, [and] has attitude like most teenagers." Tevenal
argues, though, that Grigsby must take medications everyday for the rest of his
life in order to live and grow normally and also must wear a hearing
aid. She contends that this necessarily means that he is disabled.
However, under the applicable statutes and regulations, a child who, with
medications or treatment, has the functional capacity to perform an
adequate level of pertinent tasks and activities is not entitled to
disability benefits. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.924a(b)(9), 416.929(c)(3)(iv);
Booker-Shelton ex rel. Booker-Morgan v. Barnhart, 266 F. Supp.2d 818,
819-20 (N.D. Ill. 2003); Kittles ex rel. Lawton v. Barnhart,
245 F. Supp.2d 479, 488 (E.D.N.Y. 2003); Smith ex rel. Enge v.
Massanari, 139 F. Supp.2d 1128, 1133 (C.D. Cal. 2001). Here, the ALJ
adequately considered Grigsby's ability to perform tasks and activities
while on the medications that he takes.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment
[18-1] is granted. The Clerk of the Court is directed to enter judgment
in favor of defendant and against plaintiff affirming the decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security. If plaintiff wishes to appeal this
order, she must file a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit with the Clerk of the Court, United
States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 219 So. Dearborn Street, 20th Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60604, within sixty
(60) days of the entry of the judgment in this case.